By Lt. Cmdr. Erik Wells, Camp Lemonnier Public Affairs
DJIBOUTI (NNS) -- Camp Lemonnier (CLDJ), Djibouti, the U.S. military's only enduring base in Africa, held a change of command ceremony, today, Oct. 14.
Capt. Geoffrey T. Colpitts took command from Capt. Matthew P. O'Keefe during a ceremony presided over by Rear Adm. John C. Scorby, Jr., commander of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia.
Scroby spoke of O'Keefe's accomplishments while leading Camp Lemonnier for the past ten months that has allowed the critical missions in the region to continue.
"At Camp Lemonnier, our warfighters are able to focus on the mission because Skipper O'Keefe and his team take care of everything else by providing stellar customer service to the fleet, the fighter and the family," Scorby said.
During O'Keefe's tenure major construction projects were completed such as a new warehouse and the U.S. military's first permanent barracks on the African continent. O'Keefe said the construction efforts at CLDJ demonstrate to the Djiboutian government and its citizens that the U.S. is here to stay to improve the security of the region and to fight violent extremists.
"It has been my distinct pleasure in building and continuing to build the relationship that exist between our great nations," O'Keefe said.
O'Keefe's greatest praise was for the men and women - military and civilian - who he called "the finest group of patriots on the planet" and thanked them for "serving our country overseas so that our loved ones may enjoy peace at home."
Camp Lemonnier's new commanding officer is no stranger to the importance the role CLDJ plays in the region.
Colpitts spent 18 months assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa which is a tenant command on the base. During his deployment in 2012, Colpitts was the officer-in-charge of the first permanent U.S. military presence in Mogadishu, Somalia in 20 years. He was also the senior U.S. military officer in Somalia coordinating all U.S. military support to Somalia and the African Union combat troops operating in Somalia.
"I believe that the greatest legacy that we as U.S. military members and civilians will leave on this continent is not buildings and not structures, but the influence of our character," Colpitts said.
Colpitts added that he has been impressed during his month-long turnover at the skill, pride and professionalism of the military and civilian personnel on the base.
"The men and women of Camp Lemonnier are the heart and soul of this tremendous and dynamic place here in the Horn of Africa," Colpitts said. "Each and every one of you are incredible people. The safety and health of everyone on Camp Lemonnier is my number one priority."
Camp Lemonnier supports Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa and other tenant commands protecting United States interests in Africa, and provides full spectrum individual support to personnel stationed on Camp Lemonnier. Camp Lemonnier partners with its host nation, Djibouti, to be a valued part of the community by fostering long-term common interests.