402nd Civil Affairs Battalion Takes Reins in Djibouti
The U.S. Army 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion took over as the battalion headquarters for the Horn of Africa in a transfer of authority flag unfurling ceremony September 14, 2010, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
The 418th Civil Affairs Battalion, the outgoing unit, was the first battalion headquarters to stand up on the African continent, according to U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hert, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion commander. The battalion also managed 12 civil affairs teams in seven countries that completed more than 100 projects, including more than a dozen medical and veterinary projects.
"All credit for the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion has to go to the efforts of the unit soldiers," Hert said. "They literally walked in to a ground-zero situation and built an energetic and thriving operational headquarters element that was able to support the mission of (Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa). The end result is that we ensured partnerships and relationships were maintained while promoting stability through civil-military operations."
The 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion is comprised of approximately 130 soldiers whose mission it is to support the CJTF-HOA mission by helping local nations come up with African solutions to African problems, said the battalion's Command Sergeant Major Jose Torres.
"We cover the whole plethora (of projects) through engagement projects with the host nation governments," said U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Jurasek, 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion Detachment 4 commander. Civil affairs teams refurbish hospitals, schools and clinics, as well as drill wells and conduct medical and veterinarian exercises and trainings.
All the projects are planned in coordination with CJTF-HOA, the U.S. Agency for International Development and local embassies, Torres said.
"I think the big thing is our soldiers are extremely motivated to be here," Torres said. "They see the value of the mission and just can't wait to be able to contribute."
The 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion, from Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, will be deployed in Djibouti for approximately one year, until another unit takes its place.