"Thoughts From The Running Trail" - UBUNTU - The Key to Success

Africa is a land of excellent proverbs. You've probably heard many of them in your time here.  One of our favorites is short, simple, and to the point -- "Ubuntu."

Ubuntu isn't easily translated or defined, but it's a word Africans use to express unity through diversity.  One of its meanings is, "I am, because we are."  It's a way of saying an individual does not exist without the community, and a community cannot exist without the individual.

It can be used for teams and organizations, too. It means -- "It is not thee, it is we."  We are ONE organization. Singular. We will work together in the spirit of Ubuntu.

It's also about teamwork. It means -- "We will work as a team; I am a part of the team as much as I am a leader."

Within CJTF-HOA and on Camp Lemonnier, we strive to achieve common goals, together.  In our daily work, we strengthen our team through enabling our partners to be their absolute best. Sometimes, that takes a little extra effort on our part. But it ensures that we all meet our goals.

We work together and live together.  We strive to understand each other, and we ALWAYS respect each other.  That's critically important in an environment that's as dynamic and multi-faceted as ours, where we work with joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational and East African partners.

But how do we put these principles into action? How do they affect our daily work and lives?

One way you'll see this is through the multi-national liaison officers, called LNOs, who we have working side by side with us in our Joint Operations Center. The JOC is the nerve center of CJTF-HOA. It's inside the JOC that analysis and decision-making happens for many parts of our mission.

We've always had a U.S. and British presence there, so it makes sense we also have other key allies join us as part of building our team, based on shared understanding and trust.

We succeed by, with, and through our partnerships. Officers from Djibouti, Japan, South Korea, Uganda, Kenya, Comoros, Ethiopia, and France, and other nations will join us weekly for briefings and updates, to share and exchange information, and to make the whole team more efficient, more effective, and stronger. 

You also saw several good examples of Ubuntu in the NCO Corps recently, when the Joint Non-Commissioned Officer Course graduated students from all four military branches, and two NCOs from the Djiboutian Armed Forces. And, in our previous course, an NCO from Spain attended, as well. You'll also remember the Joint NCO creed that we talked about last week was developed right here, on Camp Lemonnier, by our own stellar NCOs from across multiple services. They represent us all, as active-duty, Guard, or Reserve teammates.

So, although the word Ubuntu might be new to us, the concept is not. Simply stated, it  means "Unity."  And as we all know, and demonstrate -- unity means strength.  Strength breeds success. And success is what we strive to achieve in all aspects of our lives - physically, personally, professionally.

Have a great, safe week. We'll see you on the running trail...

BG Wayne Grigsby, Jr. and SgtMaj Bonnie Skinner

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Leadership Commander Senior Enlisted Leader Partnership