The United States is reportedly deploying additional military forces to an East African base as part of preparations for a possible evacuation of American diplomatic officials from Sudan. Three U.S. defense officials who confirmed that the troops would be based in nearby Djibouti, according to NBC News.
“We are deploying additional capabilities nearby in the region for contingency purposes related to securing and potentially facilitating the departure of U.S. Embassy personnel from Sudan, if circumstances require it,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Currently, there are already hundreds of American troops stationed at this location, including an aviation combat element known as Crisis Response Africa, a quick reaction force set up after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Senior U.S. officials have expressed concerns over the process of evacuating the embassy staff, not to mention the estimated 19,000 Americans believed to be in the country. Bringing in U.S. special forces if the environment becomes too dangerous has also reportedly been discussed.
An armed conflict has been taking place in Sudan since the week of April 9, as fighting between the nation’s military and a rival paramilitary force has already claimed over 300 lives, the majority of which have been civilians, according to a medical group on the scene. The U.S. has urged Americans in the area to shelter in place, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a U.S. diplomatic convoy was fired on earlier this week amid the violence.
“All of our people are safe and unharmed, but this action was reckless, it was irresponsible and, of course, unsafe,” Blinken said of the incident. “A diplomatic convoy with diplomatic plates, a U.S. flag being fired upon.”
Meanwhile, the State Department has established a Sudan Military Conflict Task Force to oversee logistics related to a potential evacuation of American nationals and other operations in the country. As the situation in Sudan remains volatile, the U.S. government is hoping to take proactive measures that will ensure the safety of its citizens and diplomatic officials.