Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)
The Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) conducts operations in the Combined Joint Operations Area to enhance partner nation capacity, promote regional stability, dissuade conflict, and protect US and coalition interests. CJTF-HOA builds and strengthens partnerships to contribute to security and stability in East Africa. The Task Force's efforts, as part of a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, are aimed at increasing our African partner nations' capacity to maintain a stable environment, with an effective government that provides a degree of economic and social advancement to its citizens. An Africa that is stable, participates in free and fair markets, and contributes to global economic development is good for the United States, as well as the rest of the world. Long term stability is a vital interest of all nations.
The mission of CJTF-HOA involves an indirect approach to counter violent extremism. CJTF-HOA, as part of US African Command (AFRICOM), conducts operations to strengthen partner nation and regional security capacity to enable long-term regional stability, prevent conflict and protect US and Coalition interests. CJTF-HOA builds friendships, forges relationships, and creates partnerships to enable African solutions to African challenges. CJTF-HOA aims, through its combined joint forces, to improve security, increase stability and strengthen sovereignty in the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa region through being a model for the integration of Defense, Diplomacy and Development efforts.
CJTF-HOA is comprised of service members from each military branch of the US Armed Forces (Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen), civilian employees, and representatives of coalition and partner nations. In addtion to Civil Affairs missions (drilling wells, medical care, renovation of schools and clinics, etc.), CJTF-HOA also conducts military-to-military training, which includes counter-terrorism training.
The initial Combined Joint Operating Area (CJOA) consisted of Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya and Seychelles. As of mid-2010, CJTF-HOA was not conducting activities within Eritrea and Somalia. Outside the CJOA, CJTF-HOA, it was operating in a Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, and Comoros at that time. By 2011, CJTF-HOA's Area of Responsibility consisted of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan. In addition, there were 11 additional countries that comprised an Area of Interest for the Task Force at that time: Burundi, Chad, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Yemen. The Horn of Africa region had been defined as the total airspace and land areas out to the high-water mark of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen when the operation started.
CJTF-HOA was established at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on 19 October 2002, with the aim of sending a detachment of US Marines to Djibouti. Elements of the 2nd Marine Division and II Marine Expeditionary Force embarked on board the USS Mount Whitney on a 28-day training cruise and began to transit to Djibouti in mid-November 2002. CJTF-HOA passed through the Suez Canal on 8 December 2002, as they traveled toward northeast Africa. It took approximately 18 hours for the ship to travel through the Suez Canal.
On 12 December 2002, the headquarters for CJTF-HOA arrived on station to oversee operations in support of the global war on terrorism in the Horn of Africa region as part of Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa. The CJTF headquarters was initiated with about 400 members representing all US armed services, civilian personnel, and coalition force representatives, all aboard the USS Mount Whitney, operating in the Gulf of Aden. The force also included about 900 personnel at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, and a small number of liaison personnel working in other parts of the region.
CJTF-HOA's initial mission was very counter-terrorism-focused, being part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the named operation for the Global War on Terror (subsequently referred to as Overseas Contingency Operations). CJTF-HOA had the stated focus of detecting, disrupting, and ultimately defeating transnational terrorist groups operating in the region. This included denying safe havens, external support, and material assistance for terrorist activity. Additionally, CJTF-HOA was to counter the re-emergence of transnational terrorism in the region through civil-military operations and support of non-governmental organization operations, such as enhancing the long-term stability of the region. Given organic assets and the capabilities of its previous parent command, US Central Command, CJTF-HOA had the capability to act upon credible intelligence to attack, destroy and/or capture terrorists and support networks. Command representatives of CJTF-HOA visited all sovereign nations in the region, meeting heads of state in Djibouti, Yemen, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
CJTF-HOA operated from the USS Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden until 13 May 2003, when the mission transitioned ashore to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti City, Djibouti. CJTF-HOA had begun moving all headquarters personnel and equipment from its flagship, USS Mount Whitney, into facilities at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti on 6 May 2003. The newly renovated 88-acre camp, a former French Foreign Legion post owned by the Djiboutian government, subsequently served as CJTF-HOA's expeditionary headquarters. CJTF-HOA presence in Djibouti and the duration of operations across the region were tied to accomplishment of the counter-terrorism mission, not a fixed period of time. The small country of Djibouti became an important military hub in the Horn of Africa for the United States. Djibouti allowed the US to build a new command center there, as thousands of US troops gathered there for the war on terrorism.
While CJTF-HOA did deploy with a relatively small force, Major General Sattler, the then-commander of the task force, stated in January 2003 that if needed the ability to expand the forces used was available by requesting such forces through Central Command.
CJTF-HOA Commander Major General John F. Sattler turned over command to Brigadier General Mastin M. Robeson, United States Marine Corps on 24 May 2003 in a ceremony at the CJTF-HOA headquarters in Djibouti. Along with the arrival of the new commander and the move of the CJTF headquarters to Camp Lemonier, CJTF-HOA added both personnel and capabilities to the operation in preparation for future counter-terrorism activities.
More than 300 forces arrived from the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Miami, Florida; the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York; and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-461 based at New River, North Carolina in May 2003. As a result, the total CJTF-HOA contingent at Camp Lemonier then numbered more than 1,800, representing all branches of the US armed services, coalition military members and civilian personnel.
From September 2003 through March 2005, CJTF-HOA had approximately 1,000 soldiers, many of them in highly specialized units. In addition, it had also renovated 33 schools, 8 clinics, and 5 hospitals; dug 11 wells; and conducted nearly 40 medical and veterinary visits.
As of August 2005, CJTF-HOA was composed of approximately 1,600 personnel. This included 275 employees of Kellogg, Brown and Root, who provided combat-service support to Camp Lemonier and 400 Soldiers, active-duty, Reserve and National Guard, who composed the bulk of the force.
With US Africa Command's transition to a unified regional command in October 2008 following its establishment as a sub-unified command under US European Command in October 2007, CJTF-HOA officially became part of US Africa Command that same month, with a focus on building regional security capacity and relationships, and beginning the transition of Camp Lemonnier from an expeditionary base to an enduring location that could support US AFRICOM's long term commitment to African stability.
By late 2009, CJTF-HOA's mission had been transitioned to a more indirect one from its initial counter-terror focus, with CJTF-HOA not playing any active role in terms of counter-terrorism operations. As a result, CJTF-HOA's contribution to the fight against violent extremism consisted of working with the individual militaries of partner nations to build their own capacity to confront these problems. Rather it focused largely on security capacity-building, fostering regional security cooperation-type missions. This approach implied working very closely with individual country teams, made up of US Agency for International Development and the embassy team, to bring capacities and capabilities to the US government approach in each one of the countries concerned. This work was aimed at helping that individual country bolster their security forces and their security capabilities.