STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

US military resumes air operations in Djibouti

The US military has resumed air operations in the East African nation of Djibouti, a critical location in the fight a...

Posted: Apr 9, 2018 9:02 AM
Updated: Apr 9, 2018 9:03 AM

The US military has resumed air operations in the East African nation of Djibouti, a critical location in the fight against terrorism, a US defense official tells CNN.

The move comes days after the US grounded its aircraft at the request of the Djiboutian government following two accidents.

Both accidents happened Tuesday and involved a Marine Corps Harrier jet crashing at the country's international airport and a Marine Corps CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter sustaining damage while landing during a military exercise known as Alligator Dagger.

After the accidents, the Djiboutian government requested the US halt all flying operations, three defense officials told CNN.

The US decision to halt air operations has also led the military to cancel the Alligator Dagger exercise.

There are about 4,000 US personnel in Djibouti, based at Camp Lemonnier, and US forces there support military operations against the terrorist groups in neighboring Somalia and nearby Yemen. The grounding of aircraft could affect counterterrorism operations in both Somalia and Yemen, such as drone strikes, and support to Camp Lemonnier the officials said.

Following the halt to operations, the US military and the State Department worked with the government of Djibouti to get approval for flights on a case-by-case basis to ensure support for those missions continued, two defense officials told CNN. Medical evacuation and search-and-rescue flights were allowed to proceed during the pause, two US military officials said.

Despite the grounding of aircraft, the US military was able to carry out an airstrike Thursday against Al Shabaab militants near Jilib, Somalia, killing three fighters and destroying a vehicle with a mounted heavy machine gun, according to a statement from US Africa Command, which oversees operations on the continent.

The US military places a lot of importance on its ability to base forces in Djibouti given its critically strategic location near countries like Somalia and Yemen, where the US regularly targets terrorists in airstrikes.

"Djibouti is a very strategic location for us," Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of Africa Command, told Congress last month. Central Command, Special Operations Command, European Command and Transportation Command also use the location, he added, "so it's very, very important to us."

But US officials have recently expressed concern about the growing influence of China in Djibouti, noting its establishment of a military base there its close economic links with the country.

Waldhauser acknowledged both challenges during his appearance before Congress last month.

"We are taking significant steps on the counterintelligence side so that we have all the defenses that we need there, there is no doubt about that," he said, referring to the proximity of the new Chinese base.

"But I think that one of the challenges that we're going to have is things like this," he said. "I mean, the Djiboutian government is probably over $1.2 billion in debt to the Chinese. At some point in time that money needs to be collected," which raised the possibility that China might be given control of the port of Djibouti to help pay off the debt.

"The worst-case scenario if it happened, if the Chinese did take over that port -- and, again, we have assurances from the Djiboutians they won't -- but if they did, I mean, down the way that that restricts our access, that restricts the Navy's ability to get in there and just simply offload supplies and the like," he said.

"It's a strategic geography location for us, and we need to keep it," he added.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 12438

Reported Deaths: 237
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah296672
Marion189354
Washington189221
Umatilla10418
Clackamas100628
Malheur4002
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Lane3093
Deschutes2680
Yamhill2059
Linn18210
Jackson1810
Polk17912
Jefferson1680
Morrow1541
Klamath1381
Wasco1171
Benton1156
Hood River1060
Douglas640
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Columbia540
Coos540
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa150
Baker120
Curry90
Sherman50
Gilliam20
Harney20
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 333357

Reported Deaths: 7089
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1363573824
Riverside25748550
Orange25255424
San Diego19929422
San Bernardino19502307
Fresno828288
Imperial7977136
Alameda7976148
San Joaquin698870
Kern660198
Santa Clara6542167
Tulare5942152
Sacramento571483
Stanislaus497351
Contra Costa485290
San Francisco459050
Ventura424653
San Mateo4045112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin370232
Kings297039
Monterey279018
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma181916
Placer111411
San Luis Obispo10065
Yolo92928
Madera8938
Santa Cruz5693
Napa5184
Lassen4280
Sutter4034
San Benito3622
Butte3384
El Dorado3070
Shasta2006
Yuba1983
Glenn1760
Humboldt1654
Nevada1631
Mendocino1320
Lake1211
Colusa1130
Tehama1071
Tuolumne730
Calaveras670
Del Norte610
Mono521
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo351
Mariposa321
Plumas190
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 73°
Brookings
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Crater Lake
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 68°
Grants Pass
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 64°
Klamath Falls
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 68°
Sunny & hot Wednesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events