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American Forces Press Service

Exercise Trains Next Horn of Africa Task Force

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2010 – Trainers at the joint U.S. military command that coordinates troop deployments are wrapping up an exercise to prepare forces for duty in the Horn of Africa.

Warfighters and civilians participating in the training are getting a sense of the challenges they will face as the next headquarters staff at Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa during a realistic training exercise at U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Joint Warfighting Center in Suffolk, Va.

Known as the Mission Rehearsal Exercise, the Jan. 9-15 program recreates a realistic and relevant training regimen tailored to the Horn of Africa, said Army Brig. Gen. Sanford Holman, vice commander of the Joint Warfighting Center.

“Our mission here is to make sure we have well trained and educated leaders and servicemembers,” Holman told reporters on a conference call yesterday.

The week-long mission-rehearsal exercise is the fifth for Joint Forces Command since the mission began in 2002 to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests in the region. Holman said the training takes into account lessons learned from past exercises and deployments.

“We are concerned not only with the warfighter of today, but also the one for tomorrow,” he said. “We've spent a lot of time and effort with our staff-assistance visits and going into theater to capture lessons learned and best business practices [and] bring them back and incorporate them into the training experience.”

Trainers from the warfighting center, as well as interagency and coalition partners and current and former task force staffers, are conducting the training to prepare forces who will deploy to Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa in Djibouti this spring under the command of Navy Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey.

“Joint Forces Command has set up an environment for us through which we could learn a tremendous number of lessons, the day-to-day activities in the region and in particular, some of the contingencies that could arise,” Losey said. “I think it's important to note that what makes this mission unique is the fact that it's centered on conflict prevention. And by working with our African partner nations, understanding the challenges and opportunities that we will confront together as viewed through their eyes is particularly important.”

Losey said the approach centers on diplomacy, development and defense, building partnerships that foster regional security cooperation and enhance the partner states' security capacities.

“We've really been focused on collaborating with African partner nations, coordinating with ambassadors and their embassy staffs in making sure that we are viewing both the opportunities and the challenges as they're viewed by our African partners,” he said. “That's really been the core essence of this thing.”

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