By DoD News
By Joseph Clark
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III underscored Monday the U.S. and Kenya’s shared commitment to regional peace and security during a meeting with Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Bare Duale in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.
The defense counterparts underscored their countries’ ties, signing a five-year framework for defense cooperation and enhancing interoperability between the two militaries.
“Signing the framework for defense cooperation between our two countries today reinforces the importance of our strategic partnership with Kenya, and it will help guide our bilateral defense relationship for the next five years,” Austin said following the meeting.
Austin specifically noted Kenya’s partnership with the U.S. in countering al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group based in neighboring Somalia.
The militant group is responsible for multiple attacks in Nairobi, including a multiday attack on the Westgate shopping mall in which al-Shabab militants killed 67 people in 2013.
In 2019, gunmen associated with al-Shabab attacked DusitD2 Hotel complex in Nairobi, killing at least 21 people. A U.S. citizen was among the dead.
Duale welcomed the signing of the framework, which he said emphasizes interoperability and opens avenues for enhanced cooperation on defense technology and innovation. The framework, he said, reaffirms “the strong, enduring partnership between Kenya and the United States.”
“In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, our ability to work seamlessly together is paramount,” Duale said. “This cooperation will enable us to respond effectively to the ever-evolving security challenges in our region.”
Austin’s meeting with Duale was part of his first trip across Africa as secretary of defense.
On Sunday, Austin met with the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh. The two leaders discussed U.S. and Djiboutian defense ties and regional security issues, including Djibouti’s support for the African Union’s mission in Somalia to counter violent extremist organizations in the region.
Austin thanked Guelleh for Djibouti’s leadership in the region and for his country’s longstanding security partnership with the U.S.
Throughout his meetings in Djibouti, Austin said he has highlighted the need for a holistic approach to countering extremist groups and stabilizing the region.
“Our approach across the continent has always been a combination of defense capability, development and also diplomacy,” Austin said following his meeting with Duale. “I think that’s the right combination to ensure that you create lasting effects.”