USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC-20) -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) began moving all headquarters personnel and equipment from its flagship, USS Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden, into facilities at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti on May 6 in a move expected to take about one week, with completion of the move scheduled for mid-May.
The movement of the CJTF-HOA headquarters ashore does not signal any change in focus for coalition counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, but rather represents a logical "next step" in the progress of CJTF-HOA operations. The CJTF mission is, and will continue to be, to detect, disrupt and defeat transnational terrorism in conjunction with coalition partners across the Horn of Africa region.
Unless otherwise directed, USS Mount Whitney will return to homeport in Norfolk, Va. for maintenance and begin preparing for other operations as assigned.
U.S. Navy H-46D Sea Knight helicopters, the Horned Phrogs of squadron HC-6 in Norfolk, Va., and U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Sea Stallions, the Iron Horses of squadron HMH-461 in New River, NC are airlifting tons of cargo and nearly 400 personnel from USS Mount Whitney to Camp Lemonier. CJTF-HOA will not conduct any pier-side offload operations.
In addition to moving the headquarters to Camp Lemonier, a total of more than 200 personnel from two units joined CJTF-HOA operations in the past two weeks. Forces arrived from the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, 350th Civil Affairs Command, Pensacola, Fla. and C Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY.
With the move of the headquarters ashore and the arrival of additional forces, the total CJTF-HOA contingent at Camp Lemonier numbers more than 1,800, representing all branches of the U.S. armed services, coalition military members and civilian personnel.
The newly renovated 88-acre camp, a former French Foreign Legion post owned by the Djiboutian government, will now serve as CJTF-HOA's expeditionary headquarters. CJTF-HOA presence in Djibouti and the duration of operations across the region are tied to accomplishment of the counter-terrorism mission, not a fixed period of time.
Djibouti has been a staunch supporter and a key leader within the Horn of Africa region in the Global War on Terrorism. Djiboutian workers have been instrumental in preparing Camp Lemonier for movement of the CJTF headquarters ashore. More than 300 local construction personnel currently work aboard the camp each day and nearly 300 day-workers are employed in other camp support operations.
The new communications network at Camp Lemonier, the backbone of information flow for the operation, has three times the bandwidth capability as the USS Mount Whitney. In practical terms, CJTF-HOA can now connect to more coalition partners and agencies and move more information faster than at any previous point in the operation.
Consolidation of forces at Camp Lemonier reduces redundancy of effort on both personnel and assets. Forces and assets are now being used to expand CJTF-HOA counter-terrorism capabilities vice simply duplicating capabilities between ship and shore facilities.
Since arriving in the region Dec.12, CJTF-HOA has developed a command and control structure for conducting counter-terrorism operations, developed an intelligence picture that focuses those operations and developed an information-sharing network with coalition partners to support counter-terrorism operations across the Horn of Africa region.
The CJTF headquarters was formed to oversee operations in the Horn of Africa for U.S. Central Command in support of the Global War on Terrorism and is defining the Horn of Africa region as the airspace, land areas and coastal waters of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen.