The global war on terror isn’t confined to Afghanistan and Iraq. Quietly, and virtually ignored by the media, American forces are operating in other areas of the world and performing critical functions of their own. One of those is regions is the Horn of Africa.
Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was created at Camp Lejeune, N.C. on October 19, 2002 (DOD). Without fanfare, the staff embarked in USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC 20) and deployed to the area where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden – the Horn of Africa.
Its area of responsibility includes “…Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen. Other areas of interest are Comoros, Mauritius, and Madagascar (DOD)” – regions where terrorism can ferment if left to its own devices. In 2003, CJTF-HOA moved its headquarters to Djibouti, and grew to over 1500 personnel (GlobalSecurity.org).
JTF-HOA performs a critical function in the region, for sure. On its website, CJTF-HOA states, “The CJTF-HOA command philosophy is to provide for Partner nations a stable, secure environmentâ€”a place where education and prosperity are within each personâ€™s grasp and where terrorists, whose extremist ideology seeks to enslave nations, have nothing to offer the citizens of the Horn of Africa.”
They do this using a two-pronged approach – by establishing security within the region in coordination with host countries, and by improving the conditions for the people who live there. In the latter capacity it has built schools and hospitals, drilled wells, performed humanitarian missions, and trained other militaries in counterterrorism techniques (see the CJTF-HOA website for details).
It is thankless work – but critical nonetheless. Its membership, comprised of all military services and several civilian agencies, disrupts terrorism before it infects the people of the region. And when diplomacy falls short, it is ready to unleash the awesome might of the U.S. military to seek out and destroy the bad guys.
To the men and women of CJTF-HOA, your mission may be quiet, but your deeds speak volumes. You are our heroes of the week.