Thoughts from the Running Trail - "Sticks in a Bundle are Unbreakable"

Thoughts from the Running Trail - "Sticks in a Bundle are Unbreakable" Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image Thoughts from the Running Trail - "Sticks in a Bundle are Unbreakable"

Sticks in a Bundle are Unbreakable

There is a Kenyan proverb that says “sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”  Each teammate at CJTF-HOA is like a part of that bundle.  Together, we are unbreakable.  In the eight months I have been here, together, the SgtMaj and I have seen an organization that can accomplish incredible things.  This team, the one we’ve formed between our services, our international and multinational agencies, and our partners across East Africa, is one incredible team, and we are proud to be a part of it. This is because we strengthen each other.

In the past eight months, we have watched the bundle grow.  Building a team within the JIIM is our biggest priority, and you continue to excel at this.   Across East Africa, we have a network of people, products and procedures that includes our partners from the Somalia Affairs Unit, our coalition partners, our U.S. Embassies, and our East African armed forces and partner nations.  We here at CJTF-HOA may seem like a small JTF for a huge Area of Responsibility, but through your efforts, I’m in contact with thousands.  The Special Operations and General Purpose Forces interdependence here is the best we have seen.

One stick at a time, you may not notice what we’ve been able to do. The value of a single stick seems small but from our 10,000 foot level, we see the way that your collective efforts reinforce each other; your individual sticks are now our bundle.  The SgtMaj and I truly believe we are incredibly blessed to be able to serve this team.  We have hosted some of the highest civil and military officials in our country: Ambassador Susan Rice, the Secretary of the Navy, the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, and the AFRICOM Commander and Command Sergeant Major are just a few of the people who have come to CJTF-HOA and left with a respect for the work you do every day.

CJTF-HOA has become a place where we develop leaders.  Everything we do is a leadership opportunity and CJTF-HOA is a “leadership laboratory”.  We continue to be impressed by how this occurs at every level.  The Profession of Arms is more than an abstract concept. It is who we are, and it is based on character, shared trust and understanding.  Competence without character can be potentially more damaging than incompetence.  How we conduct ourselves is critical to being able to develop and strengthen relationships.  Our non-commissioned officers have conducted three Joint Non-commissioned Officers Courses that have also had some of our coalition partners participate; our team has been partnered with ACOTA to mentor and assist our African partners; we have had our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines teach English language, instruct sniper training, communications, logistics, EOD, engineers, counter-IED, and those are just to name a few.  We look forward to physical fitness sessions and the outstanding leadership that we see from the junior enlisted, NCO’s and officers alike.  You have motivated us to continually use your ideas and feedback to develop the mission and commander’s intent.  You inspire us every day by your actions and competence in your craft.

We were the people entrusted to protect American lives in South Sudan when the U.S. Embassy needed to be evacuated.  This organization is ready to meet the demands of a challenging environment, together, bundled for strength, but built on the professionalism of some of the finest men and women we have known.

Ubuntu…See you on the running trail.

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