December 23, 2013, 03:26 pm
Marines deploy to Africa amid surge in South Sudan violence
By Jeremy Herb
About 150 Marines arrived in Djibouti on Monday to be ready to quickly protect U.S. interests amid the growing South Sudan violence.
U.S. Africa Command said the Marines were deployed from Morón Air Base in Spain to the U.S. base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, so they could better guard against potential threats to U.S. personnel and facilities in South Sudan.
“By positioning these forces forward, we are able to more quickly respond to crisis in the region, if required,” an AFRICOM spokesman said in a statement.
“One of the lessons learned from the tragic events in Benghazi was that we needed to be better postured, in order to respond to developing or crisis situations, if needed. These precautionary movements will allow us to do just that.”
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. planned to introduce an emergency Security Council resolution Monday afternoon that would allow the deployment of up to 5,000 additional international peacekeeping troops. Those tropes would primarily come from neighboring peacekeeping missions.
Spokespeople for the State Department and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power did not respond to request for comment.
AFRICOM said that Marine deployment to Djibouti was made with full knowledge and cooperation of the Djibouti government.
Roughly 380 Americans and 300 citizens from other countries were evacuated from Bor, South Sudan, on Sunday in an operation coordinated with the United Nations.
Four U.S. service members were injured in an attempted evacuation mission in Bor on Saturday when three U.S. V-22 Ospreys were fired on.
A senior administration official said the State Department was still trying to track down any remaining U.S. citizens in South Sudan, a number that was fluid.
The United Nations has asked for an increase of peacekeeping troops in South Sudan amid growing violence that the U.N. hopes will not escalate into a full civil war.
Donald Booth, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir in the capital of Juba on Monday.
Booth told reporters that Kiir said he was ready to begin talks with rebel leader Riek Machar.
Machar told Reuters that he would be willing to sit down with Kiir if his political allies in detention were released.