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Engineer Platoon arrives at CJTF-HOA

By Sgt. Matthew B. Roberson | | July 1, 2003

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U.S. Army Engineers from West Virginia recently arrived here, bring an entirely new capability to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa's mission of detecting, disrupting and defeating terrorism and deny the reemergence of transnational terrorism in the East African Region.

A key element in the counter-terrorism mission of CJTF-HOA is making a positive difference in the lives of people in the region and their environment.  This element is where the fifty-man detachment from the 463rd Engineer Battalion will make its mark.

"One of the biggest ways we're going to help with counter-terrorism is working in the community and showing the local people that we are here to help," said Capt. Shawn P. McNabb, 463rd detachment commander, "People get a whole different picture of the Coalition from the stuff we do to help out in local communities."

He said his soldiers have the ability to build just about anything, ranging from schools and houses to beaches and roads.

"About the only thing we can't do is asphalt paving," said McNabb. "We can build just about anything on a small scale."

The engineers bring a wide variety of skills, equipment, tools and expertise to the Task Force, all of which are incorporated into one reinforced platoon with extensive heavy equipment. 

The platoon focuses efforts on constructing and outfitting houses, schools and other buildings, and is comprised of masons, electricians and plumbers, along with all their tools. 

"We have the ability to build any type of structure whether it be steel, wood or concrete masonry," said McNabb.

The addition of heavy equipment such as bulldozers, dump trucks, graters and loaders, adds the ability to level terrain and landscape construction sites.

The engineers give CJTF-HOA the ability to extend its already highly successful civil-military operations into more projects in more areas.

While the engineers will clearly benefit the local Djiboutian populace through infrastructure creating and sustaining projects, their presence enables CJTF-HOA to impact communities in other host nations across the region as well.

As CJTF-HOA begins to transition from the planning and development phase of operations into the execution phase, the engineers will play a vital role in CJTF-HOA efforts to create secure and stable environments that contribute to denying the reemergence of terrorism across the region.

"We get the opportunity to build things that will be there for years and years that the people in the community will use," said McNabb.  "For us, that is the most fulfilling part of the job."


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