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U.S. Air Force Capt. Elise Hart, 449th Air Expeditionary Group chief of information operations, dances with local children during a community engagement in Chabelley Village, Djibouti, Dec. 29, 2023. Volunteers from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, out of Camp Lemonnier, visited the village to deliver books and various personal hygiene items, reaffirming the trusted partnership between the U.S. and African partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Allison Payne)

Chabelley Village, Djibouti. (January 9, 2024): There is no greater joy than seeing young children (and the not so young) dancing with such obvious delight. In this photo by Staff Sergeant Allison Payne, Air Force Captain Elise Hart shows off her dance moves with local kids during a community engagement in this tiny African village. Air Force servicemembers visited the village to deliver books and personal hygiene items and to develop closer bonds with their hosts.

Djibouti is located on the Horn of Africa on the Red Sea and is bordered by Somalia to the south, Ethiopia to the southwest, and Eritrea in the north. A country of just under 9,000 square miles, Djibouti is a mostly French and Arabic speaking country of over 920,000 that are 90 percent Muslim.

Its strategic location near the Gulf of Aden and world's busiest shipping lanes makes Djibouti extremely important to world commerce. It serves as a key port for American warships to refuel and provision while patrolling the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait, a narrow waterway that controls access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

These operations are based at Camp Lemonnier, originally a garrison for the French Foreign Legion, that was leased by the United States in 2002, along with the right to use the neighboring airport and port facilities. The base is the centerpiece of a network of around six U.S. drone and surveillance bases stretching across the continent. Camp Lemonnier also serves as a major hub for aerial operations in the Persian Gulf.