"Thoughts from the Running Trail" - We Owe Them Our Best

U.S. Marine Sgt Maj Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa senior enlisted leader, speaks to joint service members Aug 1, 2014, during an all-hands call. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson) CJTF-HOA Senior Enlisted Leader Speaks to Joint Service Members Aug 1, 2014 U.S. Marine Sgt Maj Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa senior enlisted leader, speaks to joint service members Aug 1, 2014, during an all-hands call. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson)

This week, the Sgt Maj and I held an “all hands” forum with for all of our personnel. This was so we could communicate in an open environment and recognize some great work being done by our team.

The all hands focused on the refinement of the mission statement and commander’s intent. Sometimes people act surprised that there’s been a change to the mission statement. In a healthy organization that responds to their environment and continually seeks to improve, the mission statement should change. East Africa is not a fixed environment, our adversaries are not fixed in their mission, and we should not be either. We have to move and adapt so that we can be faster than the adversary.

Who needs to know the mission statement, commander’s intent and end state? This information is not just for a select few in command or working in the Joint Operations Center. It’s important that each and every one of us at CJTF-HOA knows what we’re doing here along with our multinational, intergovernmental and interagency partners.

Very often, the service member on the ground will be the most influential link in the chain that enable our East African partners to counter violent extremism, ensure freedom of movement and protect U.S. interests. You will be the one that responds to crisis.

Here is our revised mission statement, commander’s intent and end state.

MISSION: CJTF-HOA, in PARTNERSHIP with our joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational teammates, conducts theater security cooperation activities to enable regional actors to neutralize violent extremist organizations and enables regional access and freedom of movement within East Africa in order to protect and defend United States interests. Plan, prepare and on order, execute crisis response within East Africa in order to protect and defend United States’ military, diplomatic, civilian personnel, facilities and interests.

Commander’s intent: Purpose: CJTF-HOA protects and defends the national security interests of the United States from violent extremist organizations and other potential threats in East Africa to create a secure environment that promotes stability, good governance, and continued development.

Key Tasks:

1. Continue to build a team within the joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational environment based on trust and collaboration;

2. Ensure regional access and freedom of movement;

3. Working through the JIIM team, enable our regional partners to neutralize AS/AQAA and other transnational threats in East Africa;

4. Plan, prepare, and when directed, execute crisis response.

Method: through trust and shared understanding, we will build an effective joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational (JIIM) team, ensure regional access and freedom of movement, and enable East African partners to neutralize VEOs. We will enable regional solutions to regional issues. While our efforts will always include tactical tasks and processes, they will increasingly focus on improving our partners’ combat support and combat service support capabilities; strengthening their defense institutions; and fostering the further development of the Profession of Arms. Our actions and behavior must serve as constant examples of a professional military force at the individual, unit, and institutional levels. When directed, CJTF-HOA will respond to crises and protect US citizens and interests and our African partners.

End state: East African partners enabled to more effectively neutralize the efforts of AS/AQAA and other destabilizing forces in the region in order to secure political and economic advances while preserving our access and freedom of movement throughout East Africa.

So what is the take away from this? We are here as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. We are here to conduct a military operation. How we coordinate and gauge where we are going with our teammates is by understanding and refining our mission statement, commander’s intent and end state. These words and how we use them are important, but not as important as the way we come to establish them and the way we use them to guide our actions.

Someone out there is always watching and observing you. Putting forth your best effort in everything is what we do. There is a story about Joe DiMaggio, who played for the Yankees. In his last year, they already made it to the playoffs, winning by 4 runs, in the 9th inning with 2 outs. The pitcher throws a pitch, batter hits a line drive, Joe dives, catches the ball and makes the play. The manager, Casey Stengel, comes running out and says, “Joe, why did you do that? You could have hurt yourself and we need you for the playoffs.” Joe looked at the manager and said, “There is always someone out there that may be watching me play for the first or last time. I owe them my best.”

You are the most effective resource in accomplishing our mission. You are the profession of arms, and sharing our belief in the profession of arms is the backbone of everything we’re doing at CJTF-HOA.

Ubuntu… See you on the running trail.

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