CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti — Gen. Stephen Townsend visited the continent whose US forces he commands for the annual blessing of the rains down in AFRICOM.
“The US Army has a long tradition of blessing the rains down in AFRICOM,” said AFRICOM Public Affairs spokesperson Jory Steinberg, whispering in a quiet conversation with reporters after arriving at 1230 local time.
“Believe it or not, the practice informally started in 1982, predating the formal creation of AFRICOM by decades.”
As part of the ceremony, Townsend addressed the 449th Air Expeditionary Group, also known as the Wild Dogs. He encouraged the troops to “do what’s right” and to take some time to do the things they never had while on the African continent.
“It’s gonna take a lot to drag us away from you,’ Townsend said. “As sure as Kilimanjaro rises above the Serengeti.”
The actual blessing consists of playing an ancient African melody taught to British troops by the Zulu of South Africa after one of their many conflicts. The original translation of the African lyrics, while now forgotten, have been captured in essence by the current English version, which talks about fighting and winning while outnumbered in force strength by over a hundred to one.