Joint Force Core Staff Taking Reins in Horn of Africa
With all the academic work, Mission Rehearsal Exercise and months of preparation behind them, the majority of the new core staff for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa officially begins work February 4, 2010. Made up mostly of Navy Individual Augmentees and two Army members, the 59 new core staff members fill positions including commander, deputy commander, chief of staff, command element commanders and other key positions, including those in remote operating bases in East Africa.
Unlike years past, the current commander and several other core staff are staying longer to help in the transition. Rear Admiral Anthony Kurta, CJTF-HOA commander, who will stay in command through the end of March, said this will help the new leaders be operationally ready by time the new commander takes over.
"To lose all of that expertise on the same day as we have in the past is really operationally difficult," Kurta said. "We're going to work with them so they get use to the battle rhythm and process to make decisions here, so when the new commander comes, the focus can be on what they want to do and not on the staff process of how to do it."
Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey takes command at the end of Kurta's tour. Losey is currently assigned to commander, U.S. Navy 2nd Fleet. Most of the core staff serve a one-year tour.
Many of the outgoing core staff participated in an "End of Tour" awards presentation and dinner January 31, paying tribute to their contributions. Total outgoing staff is 37, with the majority of them receiving either a Defense Meritorious Service Medal or Joint Service Commendation Medal. The dinner was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti James Swan, and provided a venue for new core staff to meet with outgoing staff.
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), spoke highly of the HOA staff's accomplishments during a recent visit. "Just know that the year plus that you devoted and dedicated your life caused the work of the combined joint task force to be work that is added to security, to stability, to development for the region...and is work that the people of this part of the continent, the people of America and quite frankly, the people of the world, have been well served by what you have done. I appreciate what you have done, how proud I am of you and most important, know this: your time here has mattered," said Ward.
CJTF-HOA is comprised of approximately 2,000 service members from all U.S. Armed Forces and coalition nations. The Combined Joint Operating Area consists of Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya and Seychelles. Outside the CJOA, CJTF-HOA is operating in a Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, and Comoros.
Operating from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, CJTF-HOA is the only U.S. installation on the continent of Africa and reports to Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany.