The Air Force stopped launching unmanned drone flights from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti after the country's government expressed concerns about the drones' proximity to populated areas. The camp, which lies on the eastern coast of the country is used for launching drone operations in the nearby regions of Somalia and Yemen. In the meantime, the drone operations have moved to an impromptu airstrip farther from population centers.
The location of this particular drone base has gained new relevance this week as its operations occasionally focus on surveilling the al-Shabab terrorist group, who recently claimed responsibility for an attack that killed more than 60 people.
Records show that since 2011, at least five drones have crashed. "Unlike in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. military essentially has ruled the skies," the Post says, "the drones in Djibouti and other foreign locations have flown from the same runways and relied on the same air traffic controllers as civilian pilots." Djibouti officials are for the most part happy with the military's arrangement, but said that the crashes were too close for comfort.
The move poses fiscal questions for the armed services since, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post from the Pentagon, as they had previously planned to invest more than $1 billion in upgrading the base, but may have to abandon that plan following Djibouti's concerns. They have spent $13 million constructing and relocating the drones to the impromptu base.