CA team receives Afar Forum Award for community efforts in HOA
The U.S. Army's 448th Civil Affairs Battalion's Team 1, was awarded the Afar Forum Award, Aug. 30, 2012, in Brussels, Belgium, for its community partner efforts aimed at supporting the Afar people, one of the two main ethnic groups in Djibouti.
Team 1 began working together upon their arrival here in June and is one of five civil affairs teams within the battalion currently assigned to support the mission of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA. The teams work with civilian populations from both the Afar and Somali, Djibouti's other main ethnic group.
Civil affairs teams provide commanders with regional expertise, political-military awareness, cross-cultural communication and professional military skills in support of operations. The teams work with local military counterparts, local civilians, and interface with non-governmental organizations.
"I'm humbled that, as a team, we could do this," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Morgan, team sergeant for Team 1. "Hopefully it brings to light that Ã? we're out here working hand in hand with the local people, governments, and Army, getting a lot of things accomplished that people will never see. [This helps us] put a better face on what civil affairs and CJTF-HOA is."
Morgan attributes the receipt of the award to partnerships built on and off camp.
"This is definitely a team award," Morgan said. "Without having [vehicle] support from the 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, and Camp Lemonnier's Transportation Motor Pool a lot of what we do couldn't get done.
"Also, we and the Djiboutian Army transitioned in about the same time," Morgan said of the Djiboutian Army detachment stationed in Karabti San, Djibouti, one of the villages the team works with. "The partnership we have is wonderful."
According to Morgan, Team 1 simply performs with one goal in mind.
"We just take the time to talk to the people and find out what their needs are," he said. "The Afar are great, very gracious people. That's just the custom. We are now part of their family and their community. They are honor-bound to take care of us. I could never say enough good things about these people."
The award, which is given every two years, reads, "With sincerest appreciation for bringing hope to the needy. Your contributions to help matters. You have made a huge impact in our community. We thank you for the outstanding service in Djibouti." It recognizes successful partner efforts within 15 Djiboutian villages. These efforts include nearly 100 key leader engagements and 50 missions.
"We've picked up projects that previous teams started; and started some on our own that we won't even see come to fruition," Morgan said. "We've developed a lot of projects, not just the Eco Dome in Karabti San. Within the Tadjourah and Obock regions, we've put together some meetings to begin partner efforts.
The Eco Dome, a 21-foot high, beehive-shaped structure with an adjoining 15-foot round room, made of sandbags, barbed wire and cement, has been in production since late 2011. The ribbon cutting for the dome is scheduled for later this year.
Until they redeploy in early 2013, Team 1 will continue its far-reaching partner efforts within Djibouti to further CJTF-HOA mission goals and benefit the Afar people in the region, according to Morgan.
The team includes U.S. Army Capt. John Miller, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Morgan, Sgts. Terry Elston and John Bivens, Specialists Adam Linden and Danielle Gregory, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Young; and interpreters, Nagat Abdoulkader-Djilani, Ali Omar, and Ismael Abdoulrahman.