CAMP LEMONIER, DJIBOUTI -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Commander Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler turned over command May 24 to Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson in an evening ceremony held at the Presidential Hangar, Ambouli International Airport near the CJTF-HOA headquarters here.
Several hundred attended the ceremony, including United States Ambassador to Djibouti, Donald Y. Yamamoto, Djiboutian Presidential Cabinet Ministers, Honorary Consuls from coalition partner nations and leaders from the French Foreign Legion garrison in Djibouti and German naval forces operating from Djibouti.
Maj. Gen. Sattler, who leaves to serve as the Deputy Commander, United States Marine Forces Central Command, had commanded CJTF forces since the headquarters arrived in December to oversee counter-terrorism operations in the region for U.S. Central Command.
Under Brig. Gen. Robeson, the CJTF mission will remain focused on detecting, disrupting and defeating transnational terrorism in conjunction with coalition partners across an operating area defined as the airspace, land areas and coastal waters of Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen.
This past week Robeson toured the region with Sattler, meeting with host nation governmental and military leaders in Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen to discuss the future of counter-terrorism operations in the region and ensure a smooth command transition for CJTF-HOA and coalition partners across the Horn of Africa.
Robeson noted that he was pleased and encouraged by the level of cooperation and commitment to the war on terrorism among government and military leaders in the region, saying, "Our coalition team is making real progress in a fight in which we all share a common purpose and vision, the ultimate defeat of terrorism."
Asked about his message to transnational terrorists in the region, Robeson responded, "Our coalition's message is that our resolve to deal a crushing defeat to all terrorists and their supporters in the Horn of Africa is unflinching."
Robeson went on to say, "The Global War on Terrorism is a long-term fight between the forces of freedom and those seeking to spread hatred and fear. CJTF-HOA is prepared for an extended fight. We will press the fight at every turn, as long as it takes and with the help of our coalition partners, together we will win the war on terrorism in the Horn of Africa region."
Noting the spirit of the people he met during his five-country trip, Robeson said, "Terrorism benefits no one and hurts everyone, regardless of nationality, race or religion. Terrorism is a common enemy of all peace-loving people. The vast majority of people across the region want a future that is free from the fear and repression of terrorism. I look forward to pursuing this vision with the leaders and people in the Horn of Africa region."
Under Sattler's command CJTF-HOA has developed a secure operating environment in Djibouti. The CJTF designed a command and control structure for executing counter-terrorism operations, developed an intelligence picture focusing those operations and built an information-sharing network with coalition partners supporting operations across the region.
In assessing progress of the operation since December, Sattler said, "Undoubtedly, terrorism remains a threat to peaceful people in the region. However, terrorists are under direct pressure from the multitude of regional and coalition partners and are certainly finding it increasingly more difficult to plan, communicate and finance their schemes of destruction."
Sattler also had praise for Djibouti saying, "President Guelleh has been a committed partner and a key leader within the Horn of Africa region in the Global War on Terrorism. Also, the Djiboutian people have embraced coalition efforts to fight terrorism. They are a peace-loving, proud people who recognize the evils of terrorism, have taken a stand and said 'not in our country.' I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with the fine people of Djibouti."
Brig. Gen. Robeson takes command of CJTF-HOA after serving as the Acting Division Commander, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C. His unique experience includes combat operations in Liberia, Kuwait/Southern Iraq (Operation Desert Storm), Somalia and Bosnia.
Robeson has served with the U.S. Marine Corps' Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company. He also served as the first Deputy Commander, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Anti-terrorism (4th MEB [AT]) - the U.S. Marine Corps' standing anti-terrorism force, established after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Additionally, Robeson was the Military Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen from 1998 to 2000.