CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- They make up one of the largest sections of Combined Joint Task Force and provide the "ears and eyes" for the task force's area of operations (AO), which includes the airspace, land areas and coastal waters of Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.
"They" are the airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coalition personnel of the CJTF-HOA Intelligence Section, also known as CJ-2, who work day and night at the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility here to gather up-to-date information about terrorist activity in the AO.
"Our mission in CJ-2 is to provide the CJTF-HOA commander and his staff with all sorts of fused intelligence," explained Marine Gunnery Sgt. Dewey L. Severs, CJ-2 analyst chief. "This basically means that we take raw data that we collect and develop it into one 'big picture-type' product. Once we get that raw data to make sense, it is called intelligence."
According to the Denver native, CJ-2 amasses information through a variety of outside sources, like the Internet, higher headquarters at U.S. Central Command and from person-to-person contact with the local citizens in the AO.
Members of Coalition militaries, who can speak the native language, collect most of the data gathered from host-nation citizens. This information could be in the form of signals and electronic monitoring, human reporting or photography.
After receiving the data, Severs and his team, ranging from junior enlisted to senior officers, analyze the information and decide whether it needs to be addressed by the task force's staff.
Cpl. Natalia Slain, CJ-2 productions chief and former Yemen analyst, explained, "We
have country analysis teams that research the seven countries and turn in articles each day."
Slain went on to say that CJ-2 is not looking for just terrorists. "Our primary job out here is to track down terrorists, but we also maintain situational awareness. That means each of the country team analysts has to be extremely knowledgeable of the political and geographical situations of their countries."
After the articles are put together, Slain, of Carmel, Ind., uses them to make the "daily intelligence summary," which is briefed to the CJTF-HOA commanding general and his staff.
The data is then passed on to personnel monitoring and managing operations across the Horn of Africa region from the CJTF Joint Operations Center.
"We then provide the intelligence to the JOC so they can come up with ways to deal with anything that needs attention, whether that be monitoring terrorist targets or doing some sort of humanitarian mission." said Severs.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Tony Howard, the CJTF-HOA operations chief, and his team at the JOC formulate plans the task force's staff can use to react to different intelligence.
Howard, of Augusta, Ga., stated, "If troops from the task force are going out for a Civil Affairs mission or something like that, then we can use the intelligence provided by the CJ-2 to decide how much and what kind of force protection those troops need for the mission."
The action taken in response to credible intelligence could range from monitoring possible terrorist threats to actually sending troops into an area to eradicate a threat, according to Howard.
As Severs affirmed, there is a terrorist threat to U.S. and Coalition forces in the area and host nation peoples.
Therefore, a variety of operations, to include direct action to capture or kill terrorist targets, are always possibilities based upon the CJ-2 intelligence estimates and analysts.
Severs said, "As long as nothing bad happens to the members of CJTF-HOA, we know we're doing our job. To this point, we've been incredibly successful. The troops know the area of operations and continue to keep up-to-date to provide the task force's general and his staff the most accurate intelligence possible."