U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, visited Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti . Since 2002, Djibouti – a former French colony – has played host to the only permanent U.S. military base on the African continent. Camp Lemonnier has grown steadily from a small outpost to an operation with more than 3,500 military personnel, most of them dedicated to combating terrorism in Somalia, Yemen and other countries in the region.
Panetta gave his best holiday wishes to the troops dressed in desert-camouflage but then got right to his point about Djibouti’s geographic significance: its location sandwiched between Yemen and Somalia, both of which are home to al-Qaeda networks.
Djibouti is known as a base from which the military has used drones to conduct airstrikes against terrorist targets in Yemen and Somalia. More recently, the military has also expanded drone operations from bases in Ethiopia, the Seychelles, and a secret location in the Arabian Peninsula.