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CJTF-HOA Senior Leadership Visit Downrange Troops for the Holidays

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071225-01
Release Date: 12/25/2007 5:29:00 PM


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

SHANT ABAQ, Kenya (NNS) -- It wasn't quite home for the holidays, but the troops downrange supporting the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) mission in Garissa and Shant Abaq, Kenya were visited by senior leadership from Djibouti, Dec. 21-23.

Capt. Tom Broderick, CJTF-HOA executive assistant was accompanied by Chief Electronics Technician Mike Nunez, J6 Communications Operations leading chief petty officer, and Senior Chief Legalman Alicia Barnes, Camp Lemonier Staff Judge Advocate leading chief petty officer, to distribute gifts, calling cards, holiday cards, holiday goodies and reminding them they might be out of sight, but never out of mind.

"As senior leadership it's nice to get out here and see the great work they're doing because we can sometimes get lost in the myriad of paperwork, briefs and plans," said Broderick. "It's important for us to reach out to those who are doing the epitome of what the 'four P's' and 'three D's' are all about and they're helping us build relationships with our partner nations so we can do our mission here."

CJTF-HOA, operates under the four P's, which are to: prevent conflict, promote regional stability, protect coalition interests, and prevail against extremism in east Africa and Yemen. This is accomplishe through humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, consequence management, military-to-military training, civic action programs to include medical and veterinary care, school and medical clinic construction and water development projects.

Additionally, HOA also implements the combined power of the three main foreign policy institutions of defense, diplomacy and development to be successful.

In their remote locations, the Army 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Garissa and the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 Seabees in Shant Abaq have gotten into the holiday spirit by hanging up Christmas stockings, lights and wreaths and decorating Christmas Trees, which were donated by CJTF-HOA families stateside.

In addition to decorations, CJTF-HOA also had holiday meal items sent in so both teams could have a typical holiday feast and celebrate the holidays as they would normally celebrate in the states.

"We can't get them home for the holidays, but it's nice to be able to bring a touch of home to them," said Nunez. "Anything we can do to make the holiday season more enjoyable for our troops downrange, whether it's a present or a decoration, we're happy to do it."

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Countermine, 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion team sergeant, was pleased to have CJTF-HOA senior leadership visit them around the holidays.

"It means a lot to the team and I to have some of the leaders from HOA visit us around the holidays," said Countermine. "It reminds us that they we're out here and care about our quality of life during the holidays. So far it's a whole lot better than the Christmas I spent in Iraq."

Chief Hospital Corpsman Rashad Boyd, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 independent duty corpsman in Garissa, is disappointed that he's not home with his fiancée and newborn baby, but he's got a positive outlook about the holidays.

"It's nice that I get to spend the holidays with my extended Seabee family because not many people can say they've spent Christmas in Africa," said Boyd. "It's not home, but we're making the best of it, and it will be an experience I won't soon forget."

Although the holiday visit was short, the visitors were impressed with the missions of the downrange teams, their professionalism and holiday spirit.

"Here they are living in tents in the middle of nowhere without the amenities they are used to and they still put 110 percent into every project because they want to help bring stability to the region," said Barnes. "The holiday season will soon be over, but these Soldiers and Sailors can take comfort in knowing they are providing the Christmas spirit year-round by building wells, renovating schools and latrines so the people they're helping can have a better life."

The CJTF-HOA leadership also visited troops in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and other locations around the HOA area of operation.

For more news from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, visit

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