The new commander of AFRICOM will focus on fighting Al Shabaab

Published: July 22, 2022

The new commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) Gen. Michael E. Langley, who appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 21, said that Al Shabaab has increased its operations.

Gen. Langley was appointed to receive the fourth star and head of AFRICOM Command. Langley will become the first African-American four-star commander to lead the Africa Command, succeeding Gen. Stephen J. Townsend.

The new commander requested that his command increase air supplies to increase the fight against the Al Shabaab group, which he said are carrying out plans outside of Somalia. He described Al Shabaab as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in Africa.

Langley also said terrorist groups ISIS, al-Qaida, and JNIM are spreading across the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, and into West Africa, leading to instability that is further fueled by Russian mercenaries.

Confronting the threat will require a diplomat-like engagement with African countries and new partnerships, he said, responding to a question by SASC chairman Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who noted China’s aggressive moves to secure a naval port in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Working with other countries, I think we set the bar,” said Langley, who led Marine forces in Europe and Africa. “That’s going to be the biggest deterrent or assurance actions, as I mentioned, that’s going to deter China from trying to take over the west coast of the African continent.”

In Somalia, where Langley deployed in support of operation Restore Hope, he said the void created by the withdrawal of American troops in January 2021 could lead terrorist groups and America’s adversaries to move in. He cited how Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group filled a similar gap in Mali.

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