ABOARD USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC-20) -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa was formed late this year to aid in the fight against terrorism. Within this force are a group of men and women who handle vital classified information required to accomplish the task force's goals or needs. This section, working aboard USS Mount Whitney, is the Joint Operations Center (JOC).
"We are kind of like a computer server," explained Petty Officer 1st Class Aundray P. Rias, JOC leading petty officer. "We ensure everyone aboard is on the same pulse."
The JOC is responsible for maintaining situational awareness as the headquarters achieves political and military awareness.
"Our purpose here is to gather, process, display, evaluate and disseminate information," said Navy Lt. John F. Troyanos, JOC support officer and joint interface control officer. "We are the focal point."
Everything JOC personnel strive toward is centered around carrying out the mission of CJTF-HOA in the fight against terrorism. This is a multi-mission CJTF meaning that there are different elements involved such as a ground element, air element and special forces. Each element has "watch standers" in the JOC whose primary goal is to provide information at the request of the task force commander, Major Gen. John F. Sattler.
The watch standers serve an important purpose because, they are the people who help pass information along.
Passing information and communication has proven to be very important in past military history, giving our nation's leaders lessons to be learned, according to Troyanos.
"Just look at the deaths that occurred in Grenada," said Troyanos, of Brooklyn, N.Y. "It was all caused from lack of communications."
Learning from past mistakes, JOC personnel take care to guard the valuable information passed through on a daily basis.
"The best way to help control confidential information is to only have people in here on a need to know basis," said Troyanos. "Everyone that comes in these doors must be cleared and wear an identification badge."
So far, the team effort of all the military services in the JOC is running smoothly, according to Rias, a native of Cleveland, Ohio.
"We all have the same mission whether you are Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine," Rias said. "We are all here to support the general and the mission of CJTF-HOA."