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Military

New Core Staff Deploys to the Horn of Africa

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070207-14
Release Date: 2/7/2007 12:24:00 PM

 

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mary Popejoy, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- A team of 85 Navy members will leave Naval Station Norfolk on Feb. 8 to begin a yearlong deployment to fill vital staff billets for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and to serve a crucial role in a region of strategic importance in the global war on terrorism.

CJTF HOA's mission is to prevent regional conflict and strengthen the relationships the United States has with our coalition partners to better assist Africans in helping Africa.

"This deployment for many of us is atypical of deployments we have done in the past," said Chief Sonar Technician Surface (SW) Suzanne Eisinger. "The humanitarian assistance we can provide to the people and countries of Africa is well worth being away from our loved ones for 12 months. I expect this to be very unique and one of the most rewarding tours thus far in my career," she said.

"Before the deployment, the team of 52 officers and 33 enlisted Sailors completed four months of training to prepare them to work with U.S. agencies, to shepherd efforts with coalition forces and host-nation partners to prevent conflicts, to promote regional stability, and to keep extremist elements at bay," said Rear Adm. James Hart, the incoming commander of CJTF-HOA.

"The training was quite extensive and very thorough. The staff at 2nd Fleet has done an excellent job preparing all of us for the upcoming tour in the Horn of Africa," said Eisinger. "If it wasn't for this pre-deployment training, we wouldn't be as prepared as we are to have a smooth turn over with the current staff," she said.

Yeoman 2nd Class Mary Jane Valdez seconded the value of training she received, "This is my first deployment as a Reservist, so I was very nervous when I arrived at 2nd Fleet, but the training we have received has definitely calmed my nerves," she said.

"[The training] gave me a true feeling of being out in the field and prepared me for the worst, but gave me a sense of comfort so I am ready to go on this deployment and do great things," said Valdez.

The two weeks included not only individual augmentee training at Fort Jackson, S.C., but also a comprehensive course in Mission Rehearsal Academics at U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM) Joint Warfighting Center in Suffolk to prepare them for the weeklong Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX). The MRX offers a realistic joint context in which commanders and their staffs can sharpen their decision-making processes and help them to operate effectively with interagency, multinational and non-governmental agency partners.

“By the time the MRX arrived and the staff was incorporated into the Joint Operations and Intel Centers, we had gelled as a team,” Hart said. “Working exercise and real world problems on tight timelines, coordinating with staffs both internally and externally [came together well.] All the training paid off and the MRX was a big success. It made a positive impact on our abilities to plan and understand the big picture of what we’ll be doing in theater.”

Training as a team seemed to help allay pre-deployment fears, according to Legalman 1st Class (SW/AW) Nita Fay Holliday.

“When I first checked into 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, I was nervous because I didn’t know anyone or a lot about the area where we are going, but now I’ve established friendships and I’ve learned a lot about Africa and our mission. I am eager to begin the deployment and make a positive difference over there,” she said.



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