US Army General Stephen Townsend confirmed as Africa Command commander

By Joanne Stocker

During his April 2 confirmation hearing, Townsend told a Senate panel that Russia is “after access and influence to our detriment” in Africa, calling Moscow’s aims on the continent “exploitative.”

As AFRICOM commander, Townsend is set to replace U.S. Marine Corps General Thomas D. Waldhauser and oversee relationships with 51 African partner nations to help build their defense capability and capacity of their security forces.

The U.S. military has extensive training and support operations in Africa, including an aerial campaign in Somalia in support of the Somali government against al-Shabaab and Islamic State-affiliated militants.

Since March 2018, Townsend has been commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and was most recently in charge of U.S. and Coalition troops fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

Under his command, the Coalition and its partner forces from the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Libyan Government of National Accord launched offensives against ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, Mosul, Iraq, and Sirte, Libya.

Townsend previously served in operations in Grenada, Panama and Haiti, and led the 3-2 Stryker Brigade during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served four tours of Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, including as Commander of the 10th Mountain Division.

His previous staff assignments include service J-5 strategy and plans officer for China and Special Assistant to the Commander at U.S. Pacific Command, Executive Officer to the Commander at U.S. Central Command and Director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell on the Joint Staff.

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