CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s new commander assumed command in a ceremony May 23 at Camp Lemonier.
Marine Brig. Gen. Samuel T. Helland took charge of the coalition anti-terror task force from Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, CJTF-HOA’s commander since May 2003.
Brig. Gen. Helland, a major general select, was the assistant deputy commandant for aviation, at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington D.C. Brig. Gen. Robeson will become the commanding general at the Marine Corps' Training and Education Command, Quantico, Va.
Brig. Gen. Helland enlisted in the Army in 1968 and served three years with U.S. Army Special Forces, and left the Army after a combat tour of duty in Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces Group to join the Marines. Brig. Gen. Helland graduated from Marine Officer Candidate School in 1973, and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1974, qualifying as a CH-53 pilot.
According to Brig. Gen. Robeson, Brig. Gen. Helland is the perfect leader for the job because of his experience.
Brig. Gen. Helland inherits a partnership with eight countries in the Horn of Africa who CJTF-HOA works with to fight terrorism. The regional partners are Djibouti, Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania. CJTF-HOA also partners with coalition forces from France, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom in the fight on terror here.
"As a coalition, our goal is to enhance the long term stability of East Africa through humanitarian assistance, civil to military, and military to military exercises enabling the countries of the region to provide a safe, secure environment and a better life for their citizens," Brig. Gen. Helland said.
In Brig. Gen. Robeson's farewell remarks he made special note that nowhere in the world are American and French relations better than here in Djibouti. The new commander lauded the host nation of Djibouti for their support of the Global War on Terrorism and pledged to continue to work with the Djiboutians and the other coalition partners to improve the security of the region, which creates a stable environment necessary for economic growth and national development.
According to Brig. Robeson, dozens have been captured and at least five attacks have been averted. "I am proud to say that we remain ahead of the terrorists because of the great efforts of our partnering host nation friends," Brig. Gen. Robeson said.
The general laid out his plan clearly to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilian workers, as well as the coalition partners.
"You have accomplished much however, our quest is not complete. We have much to do - as terrorism still preys on the world today," Brig. Gen. Helland said. "Our mission is clear; work closely with our neighbors to search out and destroy the terrorist; help to develop a safe and secure environment; set the conditions for economic growth and stability; and endeavor to make lasting partnerships that will leave the world safe for our children."