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Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean, Central America (OEF-CCA)

Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean, Central America (OEF-CCA) is a US regional military operation, initiated in 2008, under the operational control of Special Operations Command, South (SOCSOUTH), the theater special operations command (TSOC) for US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). OEF-CCA's primary focus is on counterterrorism efforts, but the operation also supports SOUTHCOM's overall military objectives and is a regional part of the larger fight against terrorism.

As part of OEF-CCA, US special operations forces in Central America operation alongside partner nation military and paramilitary forces to disrupt terrorist activities, thereby protecting the southern border of the United States from penetration. The OEF-CCA strategy emphasizes a combined counterterrorist training approach whose purpose is to build capabilities among partner nation forces. The key to success for US forces is tied to how effectively they are able to work through and with the host-nation security forces of the region. The objectives of the operation are to build capability and capacity, build influence, and counter transnational threats. Part of a broader interagency effort, the Department of Defense's role is to build the capability of partner nation forces to detect, deter, and disrupt the illicit networks in breadth and depth along the Pan American Land Bridge. The capability building effort is not specifically restricted to partner nation military forces. In many countries, US special operations forces train anti-drug units, police, and other internal security forces. This it itself part of a broader foreign internal defense mission in the region, a core competency of special operations forces. All of these efforts are geared toward combating existing and potential transnational threats in the region.

Army Special Forces operational detachment alphas, Naval Special Warfare task elements, Navy special boat teams, civil-military support elements, military-information support teams, as well as US Army general-purpose forces Civil Affairs teams and US Navy maritime civil affairs teams are assigned as persistent tactical units in support of OEF-CCA. Additionally, since the beginning of OEF-CCA, elements from US Air Force's 6th Special Operations Squadron and the US Army's 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment have conduct episodic deployments in support of operations in the region. While deployed into the area of operations, these units are task organized under the tactical command and control of a Special Forces operational detachment bravo deployed to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, as an advanced operational base (AOB). The AOB, designated as AOB Central America (AOB CENTAM), is responsible to the commander, SOCSOUTH for all assigned US special operations forces and supporting general purpose forces in the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. The AOB command and its assigned elements are rotational in nature.

While AOB CENTAM deployed with its organic compliment of personnel and equipment, it was unique in several aspects: all special operations and general purpose forces under the operational control to SOCSOUTH were placed under tactical control of AOB CENTAM while deployed into the area of responsibility. On occasion, the deployed special operations or general purpose forces element commanders were at the rank of O5, but were under the command and control of the AOB commander, an O4. Additionally, while there wes no doctrine for a joint AOB, AOB CENTAM exercised command and control of not only US Army elements, but also over US Air Force and US Navy elements. For example, up to 15 subordinate elements were attached to AOB 2230 during its simultaneous deployment in up to 5 countries. In essence, AOB 2230 became a miniature joint special operations task force and needed to understand joint culture and language and how to plan for employment of civil affairs teams, military information support teams, and Naval Special Warfare task elements, for campaigning in the area of responsibility, while exercising effective command and control. AOB CENTAM also maintained coordination authority with 7 country teams, JTF-Bravo, Joint Interagency Task Force South, the 407th Military Intelligence Battalion, and various other US governmental agencies that supported US objectives. In some of the US Embassies, a special-operations liaison package was embedded to provide information and synchronize the diverse efforts.




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