Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti

Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti

Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti

Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti


Djibouti's naval base, 600 miles closer to the Strait of Hormuz than Diego Garcia, is the nearest base to Middle East oil centers likely to be available to France and its allies in the future. Koburger's work, the only current book on maritime Djibouti, describes the geography, naval history, and present stragegic importance of this country, and indicates what might be its future. Koburger includes previously little known facts concerning French covert action in Italian East Africa, 1938-1941 and of Operation Toreador in 1956. It also turns a spotlight on the Allied blockade of Djibouti (1940-1942).


In 1989 I had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with Captain Charles W. Koburger, Jr., and happened to read his works, particularly The Cyrano Fleet: France and Its Navy, 1940-1942 (Praeger, 1989). What impressed me most was the excellent documentation the author gathered, as well as his impartiality and the accuracy of his descriptions. His judgment was precise, fair, and acute, always based on strictly controlled facts.

Today Captain Koburger does me the honor of asking me for a foreword for his new book, Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti. This subject is not well known to historians.

However, this small territory, which was French until it reached its independence in 1977, has always been directly implicated in large-scale conflicts and international events. During the two world wars, the conquest of Ethiopia by Italy in 1936, and the Suez War in 1956, Djibouti came to the forefront of military concerns of the belligerents.

The bases of its economy--the harbor, the airport, and the Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) railway--have all three been deeply involved in the efforts of war, and despite its small size this country always played an important part.

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