General Stephen Townsend, Commander, Africa Command

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…

U.S. forces in Africa are keeping a watchful eye on China, concerned that Beijing is getting closer to establishing a network of military and naval bases across the continent.

General Stephen Townsend, head of the U.S. Africa Command, told legislators, “We know the Chinese desire a network of bases around the globe. My concern is the greatest along the Atlantic coast of Africa.”

In 2017, China established its first military base on the African east coast in Djibouti, raising apprehensions among U.S. military officials who described the Chinese facility as being “right outside our gates” of the U.S. base at Camp Lemonnier.

Since then, Beijing has worked on expanding its footprint in Djibouti, the general said. “What they have done in the last two years is completed a very large and capable naval pier that adjoins their base. This pier has a capability to dock their largest ships, to include the Chinese aircraft carrier as well as nuclear submarines.”


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