General Stephen Townsend
Commander, Africa Command
Stephen T. Townsend was born in 1959 in Scheinfeld, Bavaria, and was adopted soon after his birth by an American military family in Germany. He grew up in Griffin, Georgia. Townsend graduated from North Georgia College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He was commissioned into the infantry from the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
He has served across a number of units including the 10th Mountain Division and 75th Ranger Regiment. He fought in Operation Urgent Entry in Grenada, Operation Just Cause in Panama, and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. He led a task force in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.
Townsend became commander of XVIII Airborne Corps and later took command of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He was nominated for appointment as the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, when he was promoted to general. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate and he took that command in March 2018. Since July 2019, he has been the Commander of the United States Africa Command.
In the News…
Russia recently deployed aircraft for a likely mission of providing close air support and offensive fire for the Wagner Group, a private military contractor, which is supporting the Libyan National Army in its fight against the UN-backed Libyan government. Satellite imagery accompanying a news release from the U.S. Africa Command showed what Africom said were Russian MIG29 fighter jets at a base in Libya.
“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya,” Africom Commander General Stephen Townsend said in a statement. “For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now.”
“We watched as Russia flew fourth-generation jet fighters to Libya—every step of the way. Neither the NLA or private military companies can arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support—support they are getting from Russia.”
The fighter jets originated from an airbase in Russia and transited through Syria, where Africom assesses they were “repainted to camouflage their Russian origin.”