ABOARD THE USS MOUNT WHITNEY -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) completed a simulated Maritime Interception Operation (MIO) Jan. 17, employing U.S. Navy SEALs in a boarding and take down of the headquarters flagship USS Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden.
SEALs from the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command boarded the ship by fast roping, a technique similar to rappelling, onto the deck from H-46D Sea Knight helicopters assigned to CJTF-HOA. The team then quickly and efficiently moved to several key areas aboard the vessel and seized control of critical operating functions.
In addition to MIO activities, SEAL mission areas include unconventional warfare, direct action, foreign internal defense and hydrographic reconnaissance.
Currently, SEAL forces are deployed worldwide in support of ongoing operations.
Complementing U.S. Navy SEAL capabilities, CJTF-HOA has other organic Special Operations Force assets, focused on the full spectrum of activities associated with the war on terrorism in the Horn of Africa region.
Specific MIO engagements involve the boarding, searching and taking into custody vessels suspected of carrying out activities in support of terrorists. Such organizations may be operating in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden or Indian Ocean waters forming the coastline around the Horn of Africa.
CJTF-HOA forces follow procedures similar to those used in recent Coalition force interception operations conducted in the Northern Arabian Gulf, the Adriatic Sea and the Western Indian Ocean by other forces supporting the Global War on Terrorism. These MIO activities were initiated to intercept commercial vessels suspected of moving Al Qaeda leaders or smuggling cargo that could be used by terrorists operating in the region.
CJTF-HOA, along with Coalition partners, is prepared to conduct MIO engagements in the waters around the Horn of Africa. Information collected as a result of MIO activities will be shared with host nations supporting the war on terrorism.
The principal mission of CJTF-HOA is to detect, disrupt and defeat transnational terrorist groups in the Horn of Africa region and support Coalition partner efforts to deny the opportunity for reemergence of terrorist networks.
The CJTF-HOA headquarters staff has approximately 400 members from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, civilian representatives and Coalition partner personnel. CJTF-HOA also has nearly 900 personnel stationed ashore at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti and a small number of liaison personnel working in other parts of the 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. The headquarters arrived in the region Dec.12 after sailing from Morehead City, N.C. Nov. 14 aboard one of the U.S. Navy's most sophisticated command and control ships, USS Mount Whitney, home-ported in Norfolk, Va.