Third District Republican Congressman Jim Banks visited a remote airbase in Kenya last weekend over Veterans Day, where 130 Indiana National Guard are stationed.
The Indiana Guardsmen on Task Force Tomahawk arrived in Kenya in June, after special forces evacuated the United States embassy in Sudan in April.
Banks said the guardsmen’s mission there is to provide security for the airbase.
“I imagine this base is going to grow over the next several years as the threats in Africa grow, especially from foreign terrorist organizations like al-Shabaab.”
According to the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation, al-Shabaab is a militant group trying to oust the Somali government. It wants to establish a society based on a rigid interpretation of Sharia Law.
The center says the group is based in Somalia but attacks neighboring countries, like Kenya.
Indiana’s National Guard has 150 men deployed overseas, including those in Kenya. Others are stationed in Niger and throughout the Middle East, according to spokesman Jeff Lowry.
Banks said the deployment he visited has a few months left before returning to the U.S.
He added Africa's geopolitical importance is increasing and anticipates U.S. and national guard presence in the area to grow.
“As China grows its presence in Africa, building their first military base outside of China in Djibouti and continues to increase their Belt and Road Initiatives throughout that country, it's really important that we have a presence there too."
Indiana National Guardsmen have been deployed internationally since World War One, according to spokesman Jeff Lowry.