Bravo Company, 407th CA BN Assumes Responsibility

Lt. Col. Dennis Edwards, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion commander, speaks to Soldiers during a Relief in Place, Transition of Authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014.  443rd Civil Affairs Battalion Commander Speaks to Soldiers During Transition Ceremony

Lt. Col. Dennis Edwards, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion commander, speaks to Soldiers during a Relief in Place, Transition of Authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014.  For nearly nine months, the battalion conducted military-to-military engagement to strengthen partner nation capacity. They also continued to build on a strong foundation with local military forces, civilian population, and civilian authorities as well as advise the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general on the civil environment.

Lt. Col. Dennis Edwards, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Santiago and Sgt. Scott Woodbury encase the 443rd CA BN’s colors during a transition of authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014. 443rd CA BN Commander and Command Sgt. Maj. encase 443rd CA BN's Colors

Lt. Col. Dennis Edwards, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Santiago and Sgt. Scott Woodbury encase the 443rd CA BN’s colors during a transition of authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014. For nearly nine months, the battalion conducted military-to-military engagement to strengthen partner nation capacity. They also continued to build on a strong foundation with local military forces, civilian population, and civilian authorities as well as advise the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general on the civil environment.

Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr., Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general, addresses Soldiers of the 443rd and 407th Civil Affairs Battalions (CA BN) during a transition of authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014. CJTF HOA Commanding General Addresses 443rd and 407th Soldiers

Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr., Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general, addresses Soldiers of the 443rd and 407th Civil Affairs Battalions (CA BN) during a transition of authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014. Bravo Company, 407th CA BN arrived December 2013 and will assume full responsibility of the 443d CA BN’s authority. For nearly nine months, the 443rd CA BN conducted military-to-military engagement to strengthen partner nation capacity. They also continued to build on a strong foundation with local military forces, civilian population, and civilian authorities as well as advise the CJTF-HOA commanding general on the civil environment.

Maj. Mitchell Johnson, Bravo Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) commander, left, and his company listen to Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr., Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general, during a transition of authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014. Soldiers Listen to CJTF HOA Commanding General During Transition of Authority Ceremony

Maj. Mitchell Johnson, Bravo Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) commander, left, and his company listen to Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr., Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general, during a transition of authority ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014. Bravo Company, 407th CA BN arrived December 2013 and will now assume responsibility for all of East Africa, in addition to their current focus of working hand-in-hand with the local Djiboutian populace, authorities, Djibouti Armed Forces, and other integral organizations.

Bravo Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN), assumed authority from the 443rd CA BN during a ceremony on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti May 3, 2014.

Bravo Company, 407th CA BN, from Arden Hills, Minn., arrived December 2013 and have been working hand-in-hand with the local Djiboutian populace, authorities, Djibouti Armed Forces, and other integral organizations.

With the transfer of authority, the company will now assume responsibility for all of East Africa.

The outgoing 443rd CA BN from Newport, R.I., consisted of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 443rd CA BN, and Alpha Company, 443rd CA BN.

Prior to the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr., Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general, presented Meritorious Service Medals to Lt. Col. Dennis Edwards, 443rd CA BN commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Santiago, 443rd CA BN.

“Whether it was building wells for drinking water in a village, or training the forces of the AMISOMs (African Union Mission in Somalia) troop contributing nations, or simply volunteering all those hours you did in Djibouti and elsewhere in Africa -- you were getting after it,” Grigsby said to the Soldiers in formation. “Each and every day, you were improving lives and helping us build trust and credibility with our allies right here on the forefront of it all. Yours are the faces that our partner nations will remember.”

From the podium following the ceremony, Edwards thanked his Soldiers and issued them a new challenge.

“You’ve earned a lifetime membership in a unique club by volunteering for our Nation’s Army Reserve and deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Edwards, a Syracuse, N.Y. native. “However, with that membership comes responsibility. You now have the responsibility to pay-forward the unique experiences and skills you’ve learned here by developing our leaders for the future when we get back to home station.”

Edwards credited his Soldiers for the battalion’s success and ability to overcome adversity. “There have been a lot of challenges, but these guys are very resilient, roll with every punch, adapted to every change and just done tremendous work here.

“I couldn’t be prouder, couldn’t be happier. It was a privilege and an honor to work with every single one of them.”

Santiago nodded his head and said the most rewarding aspect of his tour was working with his Soldiers, all of whom he said were extremely resilient and will have a great impact on the future of the Army Reserve and civil affairs community.

“We have some great Soldiers who have performed admirably. I am really proud of them,” he said. “Every single one of us is going back to the States better than we were when we first got here -- there is no doubt in my mind -- I’m 100 percent convinced.”

Missions conducted by the 443rd CA BN included, but were not limited to, providing the Tanzanian People’s Defense Force with intelligence and peace stability operations as well as soldier-skill training and mentorship. Soldiers also conducted assessments of and shared best practices with Burundian health care facilities that provide care for soldiers returning from AMISOM missions.  The battalion also assessed and shared best practices of basic canine first aid training for Kenyan Defense Force dog handlers.

Edwards and Santiago agreed that in addition to working with partner nations, their joint-service experiences were also enriching, from sharing their Army traditions and customs with sister services, to celebrating the Marine Corps and Navy Seabee Birthdays.

Maj. Mitchell Johnson, Bravo Company, 407th CA BN commander, said his Soldiers are already managing the drawdown and emphasized how proud he was of their efforts.

The Company will conduct military-to-military engagement to strengthen partner nation capacity. They will also continue to build on a strong foundation with local military forces, civilian population, and civilian authorities as well as advise the CJTF-HOA commanding general on the civil environment.

“If there is one message I want to put out there, it’s how proud I am of the Soldiers in the company,” Johnson said. “Teams have expanded their areas of responsibility, pouring in additional tasks and doing additional missions. So, just a real solid effort from everybody on the team.”

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443rd Civil Affairs Battalion Partnership 407th Civil Affairs Battalion

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