US Forces Train Kenyan Navy to Enhance Counter-Terror Abilities

July 7, 2008 - 8:13 PM

Nairobi, Kenya (CNSNews.com) - The U.S.-led anti-terror task force in the Horn of Africa is holding joint training operations in Mombasa, the coastal city of Kenya targeted by terrorists late last year.

According to task force spokesman Major Steve Cox, the goal isto integrate advanced technologies into coastal and maritime counter-terror operations in the region.

The operation will extend into coastal and international waters between Kenya and other members of the Combined Joint Task Force for the Horn of Africa (CJTF).

In an interview, Cox said the training would run for several weeks into July, and would involve "dozens of coalition personnel, principally U.S. forces."

This is the first time the CJTF has trained with the Kenyan Navy, although some classroom instruction with the non-commissioned Kenyan Army officers was carried out in April.

Cox said the training with the Kenyan naval forces was similar to recent training the task force undertook with Yemeni special operations forces.

"Both sets of training generally focus on a variety of tactics, techniques and procedures, including both day and night operations," he said.

"Maritime security skills addressed include small craft operations; intercept, boarding and searching procedures; and facilities' security and defense."

Training with the Kenyans is focused on the porous coastal frontier near the city of Mombasa, and it is aimed at detecting and disrupting illegal activities emanating from neighboring Somalia.

Terrorists in the region are known to have used Somali territory to organize, train and plan attacks.

Last November, terrorists mounted an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli chartered plane as it took off from an airport in Kenya. Almost simultaneously, others carried out a car bomb attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, killing 10 Kenyans and three Israelis.

Cox praised Kenya, saying it was a regional leader in the war against terrorism, having taken "decisive action to address anti-terrorism issues associated with air and port security."

"Frankly, Kenya's aggressive stance against terrorism, particularly in terms of coastal security, strengthens the entire network of coalition partners in the region," Cox said.

He said the CJTF was more than willing to provide training assistance to Kenya because "this increased degree of cooperation only adds to the depth of capability across the region."

This helped nations not simply to "guard against terrorism, but rather creates a capability to actively pursue and defeat terrorism."

Kenya's military spokesman declined to comment on the joint operation.

The Kenyan Navy is considered by military experts to be the most capable maritime force in the eastern Africa region.

It comprises about 1,400 officers and, according to the Institute of Security Studies, has four missile craft, four patrol and coastal combatants, one amphibious craft, and a support vessel.

Cox believes that Kenya has the forces and equipment necessary to address anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism.

"Where there are 'seams' in Kenya's capabilities, coalition partners in the region are working to fill those gaps in a variety of ways -- personnel, technology solutions, donor assistance, training," he said.

Other countries involved in the task force's activities are Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and Eritrea.

The Kenyan Navy is being introduced to a high-speed military vessel known as HSV-X1 Joint Venture, a 313-foot, catamaran-hulled vessel considered particularly suitable to anti-terrorism maritime activities in the Horn of Africa, where countries have lengthy coastlines.

The boat can carry up to 325 combat troops and 400 tons of cargo nearly 3,000 miles, traveling at speeds in excess of 40 knots.

It is designed for force-insertion, recovery and redeployment missions, and it is highly maneuverable, capable of making a 90-degree turn at full speed and stopping within three ship lengths, the CJTF said in a statement.

The CJTF has established a regional counter-terrorism headquarters at a former French Foreign Legion post in Djibouti called Camp Lemonier. It has some 1,800 personnel.

Recently, the task force was boosted by the arrival of a three-ship amphibious assault group and a guided missile frigate.

The Pentagon says the additional military muscle is intended to show U.S. resolve to fight terrorism in the region for as long as necessary.

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