- Politics and Social Issues
Camp Lemonnier: America's Drone Airbase at Djibouti
Up to now, it has mostly been a secret. But, secrets always get exposed and now Camp Lemonnier (500 acres) in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, is in the spotlight.
Dedicated to counter terrorism, the US is building a $1.4 billion upgrade to an exisiting secret base. The upgrade will transforms this backwater base that shares an airfield with Ambouli International Airport, will have hangars for 46 drones, helicopters and aircraft. Its barracks will be enlarged to hold US Navy Seals and Army Delta Forces. This will transform the once French Foreign Legion outpost.
Drones already there take off or land 16 times a day from a desolate base just 10 miles from Somalia, known for its own terrorism. Just across the Red Sea is the al-Qaeda haven called Yemen. There are currently about 300 special forces on the base, awaiting orders. There is another 3200 men also there. Eventually, 1100 special forces will be based there. The camp has been active since 2010, and before then, sporadically used to base drones as far back as 2002. The base also can hold a squadron of F-15E, which fly combat missions over Yemen. of course, the locals in Djibouti, about one million, prosper from the American presence in numerous ways not to mention paying them $38 million a year for the camp. Ironically, the drones based there are flown via satellite link by pilots 8000 miles away from Creech AFB in nevada and Cannon AFB in New Mexico!