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US Army General Stephen Townsend, US Africa Command’s commander, has directed the formation of Joint Task Force- Quartz to oversee Operation Octave Quartz, a mission designated to reposition forces from Somalia.

“I directed the activation of a Joint Task Force [JTF] Quartz, built around the headquarters of Special Operations Command-Africa, to oversee Operation Octave Quartz, the directed re-positioning of US forces from Somalia to other bases in East Africa,” said Townsend.

Townsend traveled to East Africa between 14 and 17 December where he met with US commanders and forces supporting the mission and operations in the area.

“JTF-Quartz is commanded by the SOCAF commander, Major General Dag Anderson. I have just returned from visiting him at his forward headquarters in East Africa where I met with Dag and his commanders to review their posture and plans. JTF-Quartz is ready to go,” Townsend added.

Townsend also met with African partners, providing reassurance of sustained commitment to East Africa security.

Purpose of JTF-Quartz

“To be clear, the US is not withdrawing or disengaging from East Africa. We remain committed to helping our African partners build a more secure future,” Townsend said.

The JTF will relocate forces while maintaining pressure on violent extremist organisations in the region and supporting enduring partners.

“We will execute this mission swiftly, methodically, and with additional forces to protect both our partners and US forces,” said Major General Dagvin Anderson, JTF Quartz commander.

US military assets have moved into the region to support the operation, to include the Expeditionary Sea Base USS HERSHEL “WOODY” WILLIAMS (ESB 4). The repositioning of forces will be completed in a deliberate, conditions-based manner.

US Africa Command remains committed to East Africa and Somalia, to include maintaining regional security, training, as well as continuing to pressure Al Qaeda’s franchise al-Shabaab. US Africa Command will ensure a focus on the continuity of operations and support in Somalia and the East African region.

Jack Richardson