DJIBOUTI -- Forces from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2d MEB) conducted a Close Air Support live fire exercise today at Godoria Range in Djibouti's northern training area.
Nearly 100 troops were ashore, firing close to 120 rounds from 81mm mortars, controlling 30 air strikes from AV-8B Harrier jets dropping bombs and another 20 strikes by the 20mm cannon and rocket pods of AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters and .50 caliber machine guns of UH-1N Huey utility helicopters. Hundreds more personnel supported the exercise from warships in the Gulf of Aden.
Aircraft launched ashore from the decks of the USS Kearsarge, Bataan, Saipan, and Ponce enabling 2d MEB and the ships and crews of Amphibious Group-2 to refine command and control processes, procedures for close air support of ground forces, and pilot proficiency and flight deck operations, all in a scenario-driven mission environment.
CJTF-HOA forces provided range safety oversight, fire support planning and instruction, and assisted in establishing a communications network. Communications linked operation centers aboard the seven-ship task force with the CJTF-HOA flagship, USS Mount Whitney, forces at Godoria Range, pilots flying attack aircraft and the Ambouli Airport control tower in Djibouti.
The exercise marks the first time 2d MEB forces have integrated live-fire training since sailing from Camp Lejeune, N.C. in mid-January. It was also the first time CJTF-HOA forces participated in a combined arms scenario using land-based fire support assets and both attack jets and helicopters simultaneously.
Djibouti's President, Ismael Omar Gelleh, has been a staunch supporter and committed partner in the Global War on Terrorism. U.S. and coalition military forces have used Djibouti's training ranges several times during the past year.
Both the 22d and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) previously trained in Djibouti. In January, CJTF-HOA, USS Briscoe and coalition forces, held a live fire aerial and naval bombardment exercise at Godoria Range. CJTF-HOA expects to continue routinely training with U.S. and coalition forces operating in, or transiting
through, the Horn of Africa region.
Having passed through the Suez Canal on Feb. 4, the nearly 5,000 sailors and 7,000 Marines from the N.C.-based 2d MEB and the USS Kearsarge, Bataan, Saipan, Ponce, Ashland, Portland and Gunston Hall from Amphibious Group-2, home-ported in Norfolk and Little Creek, Va., are deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations to support the Global War on Terrorism and are prepared for any future contingencies that may arise.
The CJTF-HOA headquarters, formed specifically to oversee operations in the Horn of Africa for U.S. Central Command in support of the Global War on Terrorism, has a focused mission - to detect, disrupt and defeat transnational terrorist groups in the region and support Coalition partner efforts to deny the opportunity for reemergence of terrorist networks in the Horn of Africa.
The 400-member CJTF-HOA headquarters is embarked aboard one of the U.S. Navy's most sophisticated command and control ships, USS Mount Whitney, out of Norfolk, Va. With recent Reserve force augmentation, CJTF-HOA now has nearly 1,300 personnel stationed ashore at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti and a small number of liaison personnel working in other parts of the region.