CJTF-HOA Hosts PIO Conference

A group of East Africa military public information officers listen to opening remarks during the African Mission to Somalia and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Information Officer Conference at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti on Nov. 3, 2014. group of East Africa Military Public Information Officers listen to Opening Remarks during the African Mission to Somalia and CJTF-HOA Public Information Officer Conference

A group of East Africa military public information officers listen to opening remarks during the African Mission to Somalia and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Information Officer Conference at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti on Nov. 3, 2014. Twenty public information officers from eight African countries met at Camp Lemmonier for a four day conference covering a variety of public information topics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Carlin Leslie)

Maj. Deo Akiiki, Uganda Ministry of Defence Directorate of Information and Public Relations, addresses a group of military public information officers during the African Mission to Somalia and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Information Officer Conference at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti on Nov. 3, 2014. Uganda Ministry of Defence Directorate of Information and Public Relations, addresses a Group of Military Public Information Officers during the CJTF-HOA Public Information Officer Conference

Maj. Deo Akiiki, Uganda Ministry of Defence Directorate of Information and Public Relations, addresses a group of military public information officers during the African Mission to Somalia and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Information Officer Conference at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti on Nov. 3, 2014. Akiiki, along with other AMISOM public information officers, attended the four day course to discuss a variety of public information topics, share best practices and lessons learned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Carlin Leslie)

Mustafa Duhulow, Somalia Minister of Information, speaks to a group of military public information officers during the African Mission to Somalia and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Information Officer Conference at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti on Nov. 6, 2014. Somalia Minister of Information speaks to a Group of Military Public Information Officers during CJTF-HOA Public Information Officer Conference

Mustafa Duhulow, Somalia Minister of Information, speaks to a group of military public information officers during the African Mission to Somalia and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Information Officer Conference at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti on Nov. 6, 2014. Duhulow addressed the group on the importance of countering the narratives of violent extremist organizations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darrell I. Dean)

Military public information officers from across Africa gathered for the African Mission to Somalia and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Information Officer Conference at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Nov. 2-7, 2014.

Twenty public information officers from six countries met together to discuss public information topics, collaborate, share best practices and lessons learned. The goal of the conference was not only to educate, but to encourage the free flow of information between AMISOM partner nations.

“We currently have stovepipes, where each East African country keeps information to themselves,” said Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commander. “Our goal is to build windows and bridges to allow the free flow of information between partner nations.”

The conference was broken into two iterations. The first featured group discussion on a variety of public information topics such as public affairs, strategic communication and information operations.

The second iteration featured breakout sessions where smaller groups discussed applying concepts to fictional scenarios. These breakout sessions gave the participants an opportunity to not only apply what they learned, but to increase collaboration and interoperability among themselves.

Participants were grateful the opportunity to come together to share information and build partnerships. Many agreed that cooperation between nations is critical to bringing peace and stability to East Africa.

“We look forward to continue making our collaboration stronger,” said Maj. Deo Akiiki, Uganda Ministry of Defence Directorate of Information and Public Relations. “I'm sure the coordination with AMISOM will continue as we strive to achieve our mission of a peaceful, democratic and developed world where freedom for humanity thrives.”

The guest speaker at the conference was Mustafa Duhulow, Somalia Minister of Information. Duhulow addressed the group on the importance of countering the narratives of violent extremist organizations. Duhulow also took questions from the group to help everyone understand how they could contribute to this effort.

As the conference concluded, participants expressed the desire for more meetings in the future. While CJTF-HOA is planning similar events, Grigsby challenged each person to build upon what was accomplished at the conference.

“What has started here should not end here,” Grigsby noted. “We have brought you together to learn from each other. I encourage you to continue to build your relationships after you leave.”

While Akiiki agreed there are many challenges ahead, he added that the PIO conference will help AMISOM nations move in the right directions.

“Each long journey begins with a single step," Akiiki acknowledged. “I think we have already taken the second step and we are on a straight path.”

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