CJTF-HOA commander, senior enlisted leader bid farewell to Africa, service members

After dedicating a year of service to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Maj. Gen. Mark Stammer and Command Sgt. Maj. Butler Kendrick Jr., CJTF-HOA commanding general and senior enlisted leader, bid farewell Wednesday to the thousands of service members they’ve led who are making a positive impact on the East African region.



By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kate Thornton Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti Apr 12, 2016
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After dedicating a year of service to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Maj. Gen. Mark Stammer and Command Sgt. Maj. Butler Kendrick Jr., CJTF-HOA commanding general and senior enlisted leader, bid farewell Wednesday to the thousands of service members they’ve led who are making a positive impact on the East African region. 

Stammer arrived in April 2015, followed by Kendrick in June. Together they’ve been working toward a peaceful, self-sufficient region by enabling, strengthening and shaping African militaries and regional organizations.

 “It’s really all about our partners,” Stammer said. “We’re here to assist them, enable them and advise them, and to help Somalia stand on its own through the formation of states, ratification of its constitution and the building of a Somali National Army.”

The two have worked toward their goals by organizing, attending and leading events in Djibouti and throughout the region. Some impactful moments include the East Africa Joint Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational conference days after Stammer arrived, and the East Africa Security Synchronization Conference earlier this year.

“The troop contributing countries and the greater East African community have put forth tremendous effort and made progress toward building better institutions and armies,” Stammer said. “They don’t need partners or allies to continue to come in and train their soldiers forever. We’ll do that to assist in the beginning, but then they pick up the training and build their forces and their institutions.”

“It’s still going to be a lot of effort from everyone,” Kendrick said. “But I think we’re making progress.”

In addition to the events, they pursued a stronger relationship with African and coalition partners.

Kendrick made it a personal goal to strengthen relationships between CJTF-HOA’s senior enlisted leaders and senior enlisted leaders from coalition and East African partner nations. He hosted several engagements to include members of the Djiboutian Armed Forces visiting the camp for the first time since 2004. 

“You have to figure out how to build trust with partners.” Kendrick said. If given more time here, he said he would “continue to work on building that trust and those relationships.”

The leaders had their hands full with many working parts. They both acknowledged the extreme dedication and hard work the CJTF-HOA service members have contributed to the overall advancement of the mission.

As the home of the only permanent presence of U.S. forces in Africa, Stammer said “we serve as an interlocker for many nations, and we’re doing very well.”

One of their biggest challenges was the high turnover rate of personnel and ensuring progress is not lost or slowed with the change in personnel.  However, a unique aspect of CJTF-HOA is approximately 54 percent of the command consists of reservists or national guardsmen. 

“We have Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. We capitalize on strengths from other parts of their life and other service cultures,” Stammer said.

“There’s a lot of pieces, cultures and branches, but we’re all looking at one common goal,” Kendrick said.

The prime component of the CJTF-HOA mission is to help build the defense capability and capacity among its East African partners.

“The word ‘combined’ in CJTF-HOA means our friends,” Stammer said. “In our Fusion Action Cell there’s a number of different countries, and I envision that to grow even more to facilitate the accomplishment of more regional goals. (America) should be proud of their service men and women here in east Africa. They’re doing great work with our partners, and they’re really working toward neutralizing threats like Al-Shabaab.”

 

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