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2023 Year in Review: Camp Lemonnier

29 December 2023

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Thomas

Regional partnership, community engagement and joint warfighter support marked 2023 at Camp Lemonnier.
Read CLDJ’s 2023 Year in Review to revisit some of our highlights from this year.

January: In January, Rear Adm. Brad Collins, commander of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central (EURAFCENT), toured Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ) to survey the Command’s unique capabilities and operational relevance.

“This installation is so important to what goes on in this area of responsibility,” said Collins. “What you are doing here is making an impact, not only does it play a part in larger geo-political issues with players outside the base here in Djibouti, but how things happening on this continent can affect other regions outside of Africa as well.”

February: In February, members of the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 8, the Djiboutian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force participated in a trilateral training engagement aboard the Japanese destroyer JS Suzutsuki based in the Port of Djibouti.

Proficiency in vetting, boarding, search and seizure (VBSS) tactics is important in Djibouti, because its location on an international shipping route creates high potential for smuggling and illegal activity, said Lt. Cmdr. Luis Aybar, deputy chief, Office of Security Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Djibouti.

March: In March, international maritime forces and organizations kicked off the multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2023 (CE23) with an opening ceremony at the Coast Guard Training Center in Djibouti.

The participating nations exercised their capabilities in disrupting illicit trafficking, piracy, oil bunkering and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

April: In April, Camp Lemonnier hosted its annual Iftar meal for deployed U.S. service members and members of the local Djiboutian community.

On April 18, U.S. Navy Capt. Suzanne Krauss took over command of Camp Lemonnier from U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Iber during a ceremony presided over by Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central Rear Adm. Brad Collins.

Also in April, U.S. government personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Sudan evacuated to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. At the direction of the President, the U.S. military conducted a successful operation to safely evacuate U.S. government personnel out of Sudan.

May: In May, U.S. military members shopped, engaged and connected with local Djiboutian artists and vendors during Camp Lemonnier’s biannual bazaar. CLDJ’s biannual bazaar events provide a venue for conversation and cultural exchange between deployed service members and our Djiboutian neighbors.

June: In June, Camp Lemonnier and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa leadership attended the annual Djiboutian Armed Forces military parade to commemorate the 46th Djiboutian Independence Day.

August: In August, Dr. Mara Karlin, performing the duties of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, met with Camp Lemonnier leadership for a base tour and viewed ongoing infrastructure projects.

“It was an honor to have Dr. Karlin and her team visit Camp Lemonnier and see our facilities, work, and mission firsthand,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Suzanne Krauss, CLDJ commanding officer. “Camp Lemonnier plays a key role in our national security and is valuable in our ability to address security challenges in the region.”

September: In September, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III paid a special visit to service members deployed to Camp Lemonnier.

“This command and this installation is the epitome of jointness. The work you do here with our Djiboutian partners and our other allies here is important,” Austin said. “I also know that because you’re here you’re away from home missing family, missing birthdays and anniversaries. So when you talk to your family tell them Lloyd Austin said ‘thank you’ not just for your service as the military members, but for their service as well.”

October: In October, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 11 trained 40 Djiboutian Coast Guard and Navy members at Dorahleh, Djibouti. The MSRON 11 team taught vetting and boarding tactics, searches and close-quarters combat. The training was part of three months of preparation and knowledge sharing ahead of Exercise Bull Shark 23.3

November: In November, U.S. and regional partner nations celebrated Partner Appreciation Day (PAD) at Camp Lemonnier.

Camp Lemonnier also celebrated art and culture at the second biannual Djiboutian Bazaar of 2023. CLDJ has hosted bazaars for 16 years to connect U.S. service members with the local community. 

At the end of the month, service members from Camp Lemonnier joined members of the Djiboutian Coast Guard and Navy in Exercise Bull Shark 2.23, a biannual maritime security and personnel recovery exercise,

“Preparing for this event together helped us better understand who we’re working with, so we can maximize each other’s advantages and overcome disadvantages,” said Boatswain Mate Chief Roxxanne Bravo, training department lead chief petty officer for Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 11. “I believe we did that, and I’m happy to say the event went very well.”

December: In December, CLDJ hosted an Army vs. Navy football game in honor of the annual Army-Navy game, one of the most traditional and enduring rivalries in college football. Though rivals on the field, Sailors and Soldiers work and train together every day because we’re strongest as one team.

Camp Lemonnier capped off the year with a holiday celebration at the end of December. Holiday events at Camp Lemonnier provide an opportunity for forward-deployed service members to share in traditional celebrations while they’re far from home. 

Camp Lemonnier is an operational installation that enables U.S., allied and partner nation forces to be where they are needed to ensure security and protect U.S. interests. The installation provides world-class support for service members, transient U.S. assets and 38 local tenant commands.

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