Domestic terrorism overshadowed foreign attack on America

The coup d’état attempted by supporters of election loser Donald Trump on January 6th over shadowed another terrorist attack on the United States that killed three American military personnel in Kenya.

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, and Rep. Glenn Grothman, the top Republican on the panel, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III demanding information about the January 5, 2020, terrorist attack against U.S. personnel at Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay, Kenya, which resulted in the deaths of three American citizens: U.S. Army Specialist Henry "Mitch" J. Mayfield, Jr. and DOD contractors Bruce Triplett and Dustin Harrison.

“It is simply unacceptable for the Department to withhold information from Congress about a terrorist attack that killed three American citizens,” the congressmen wrote. “Congress has a solemn constitutional duty to conduct oversight of U.S. military operations, including and especially when a terrorist attack claims the lives of American citizens overseas.”

Mayfield, 23, was killed Jan. 5 on Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya. Al-Shabab, an Islamic extremist group based in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for the assault.

Mayfield graduated from Hillcrest High School in 2014 and he enlisted in August 2017 after spending a year at Northern Illinois University, was an air traffic services mechanic with the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group of the Army’s First Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment.

He had been stationed at Fort Rucker in Alabama prior to deploying to Kenya last October, where he worked installing and maintaining heating and cooling systems, according to his family.

Following the attack, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) initiated an Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 investigation, which was completed in April 2021.

However, DOD has refused to produce the investigation report to the subcommittee, citing an ongoing independent review, which was directed by the Secretary of Defense and is being led by General Paul E. Funk.

The bipartisan letter marks the third time the subcommittee asked the Pentagon to provide information about the January 2020 attack.

Lynch and Congressman Jody Hice, the former ranking member, sent an initial letter to DOD in February 2020 and the chairman and ranking member renewed the subcommittee’s request in April 2021.

The congressmen asked the Pentagon to provide the Army’s AR 15-6 investigation report by August 13, 2021, and the findings of Funk’s independent review when it is completed. They also requested a briefing by September 30, 2021.

Click here to read the letter to Secretary Austin:

Armed with rifles and explosives, about a dozen al-Shabab fighters destroyed an American surveillance plane as it was taking off and ignited an hourslong gunfight on a sprawling military base in Kenya that houses U.S. troops.

By the time al-Shabab was done, portions of the airfield were burning, and the three Americans were dead.

Surprised by the attack, U.S. commandos took around an hour to respond.

Many of the local Kenyan forces, assigned to defend the base, hid in the grass, while other U.S. troops and support staff were corralled into tents, with little protection, to wait out the battle. It would require hours to evacuate one of the wounded to a military hospital in Djibouti, roughly 1,500 miles away.

The brazen assault at Manda Bay, a sleepy seaside base near the Somali border, on Jan. 5, was largely overshadowed by the crisis with Iran after the killing of that country’s most important general two days earlier as well as the conspiracy to overthrow the election results here in America, and the incident is only now drawing closer scrutiny from Congress and Pentagon officials.

But the storming of an airfield used by the U.S. military so alarmed the Pentagon that it immediately sent about 100 troops from the 101st Airborne Division to establish security at the base.

Army Green Berets from Germany were shuttled to Djibouti, the Pentagon’s major hub in Africa, in case the entire base was in danger of being taken by al-Shabab, an East African terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaida.

“The assault represented a serious security lapse given how much of a target the base was and its location near the border with Somalia,” said Murithi Mutiga, the International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa project director, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Many details of the attack remain murky, and the military’s Africa Command has released only scant particulars pending an investigation. But the deaths of the one Army soldier and two Pentagon contractors marked the largest number of U.S. military-related fatalities in Africa since four soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger in October 2017.

The Kenya attack underscores the U.S. military’s limits on the continent, where a lack of intelligence, along with Manda Bay’s reputation as a quiet and unchallenged locale, allowed a lethal attack.

The deaths also signify a grim expansion of the campaign waged by the United States against al-Shabab — often confined to Somalia, but in this case spilling over into Kenya despite an escalating U.S. air campaign in the region.

Kenya is a new addition to the list of countries where Americans have been killed in combat since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, joining Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Niger, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

It is one of four nations on the continent where Lisa McCormick’s prediction was confirmed. The progressive Democrat said, "People should pay much closer attention to events around the world, because if we do not make the right decisions, Africa is the next place American soldiers will go to die."

The Kenya attack is raising new and complex questions about the U.S. military mission on the continent, where more than 5,000 troops serve, especially as the Pentagon weighs the potential withdrawal of hundreds of forces from West Africa to better counter threats from Russia and China.

A Pentagon proposal to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Africa drew sharp criticism from senior lawmakers of both parties.

"There are 29 American military bases in Africa," said McCormick. "Republicans like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin have demonstrated an incredible degree of ignorance about the continent while American lives are hanging in the balance. It’s absolutely imperative that Americans rise up to the responsibility of citizenship."

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