CAMP LEMONIER, DJIBOUTI -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) increased its capability to fight the Global War on Terrorism across the region Friday with the arrival of a detachment of CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters and nearly 100 personnel including pilots, crew chiefs, maintenance personnel and a headquarters group.
The "Iron Horses" of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-461 (HMH-461) from Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C. arrived on some of the world's largest planes, C-5 Galaxy aircraft from the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command.
Lt.Col. Larry Fulwiler, squadron commanding officer for HMH-461, said the length of the detachment's stay in Djibouti is for the duration of the CJTF-HOA mission, although routine rotation of personnel is authorized.
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 Iron Horse detachment provides CJTF-HOA organic operational reach and flexibility to support of a wide variety of counter-terrorism activities across the Horn of Africa region.
The Sikorsky Super Stallion helicopters are compatible with most amphibious class ships and can carry an internal load of 69,750 pounds (31,666 kilograms) and an external load of 73,500 pounds (33,369 kilograms). The helicopters seat 37 passengers in normal configuration and have provisions to carry 55 passengers with centerline seats installed. Additionally the CH-53E has a 621-mile range without refueling, although with its refueling probe, it can be refueled in flight giving the helicopter unlimited range.
With 4.5 hours' endurance, the Super Stallion's three-member crew can readily move equipment, supplies and personnel over rugged terrain, in bad weather and at night.
For its mission, CJTF-HOA defines the Horn of Africa region as the total airspace, land areas and coastal waters of Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen.
CH-53E helicopters are currently deployed worldwide in support of ongoing operations. Recent employment of the aircraft includes action during Operation Eastern Exit in Somalia in 1990. Two Super Stallions launched from amphibious ships, flew 532 miles at night and refueled twice in flight to support the actions of U.S. and foreign allies at the American Embassy in Mogadishu. Additionally, two CH-53Es were used in the recovery of U.S. Air Force pilot Capt. Scott O'Grady in Bosnia in June 1995.
HMH-461 was initially activated in 1944 and made its first operational flights with the CH-53E helicopter in 1987.
The 400-member CJTF 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 the addition of HMH-461 personnel, CJTF-HOA now has more than 1,300 personnel stationed ashore at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti and a small number of liaison personnel working in other parts of the region.