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CJTF-HOA Yemen Visit

By | | June 6, 2003

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Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Commander Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson concluded his first official trip outside of Djibouti Thursday as commander of the counter-terrorism coalition task force, visiting Yemen to discuss ongoing activities between Yemeni and CJTF-HOA forces in the Global War on Terrorism. 

During the two-day visit, Robeson met with several military commanders including Col. Ahmed Ali Saleh, commander of Yemen's Special Operations Forces, and other government and military officials, to discuss progress and future plans for combating terrorism.  

Robeson's visit with Yemeni leaders coincided with the completion of maritime security training between a team of U.S. forces and Yemeni special operations personnel.  Robeson noted that such training provides clear evidence of Yemen's aggressive commitment to defeating terrorism and enhancing internal security and stability, which in turn creates an environment leading to economic growth and national development. 

The CJTF-HOA delegation's trip also came on the heels of Monday's visit to Yemen by U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller, who discussed a number of counter-terrorism issues with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. 

According to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, during talks with Saleh, Mueller emphasized the close security cooperation currently existing between the United States and Yemen, and expressed optimism for the continued strengthening of relations between the two nations.

At the conclusion of his visit with Yemeni officials, Robeson echoed Mueller's comments, saying, "I'm encouraged by the degree of commitment and resolve displayed by the government of Yemen to address the threat of terrorism.  They have firmly committed to the Global War on Terrorism and are clearly and forcefully backing up talk with action." 

For its mission of detecting, disrupting and defeating transnational terrorism, 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.

The Horn of Africa region, with its long coastlines and lengthy internal borders, has been identified as a transit route for terrorist organizations operating in and around Afghanistan and the Arabian Peninsula.    

Recently completed training between CJTF and Yemeni forces is aimed in part at addressing potential terrorist transit routes across the strategic Bab al-Mandeb straits from Yemen's oil-rich Marib province into the Horn of Africa region.

CJTF-HOA and Yemeni special operations forces training focused on a variety of tactics, techniques and procedures including both day and night operations.  Maritime security skills addressed included small craft operations; intercept, boarding and searching procedures; and facilities security and defense.

In commenting on the impact of the training between CJTF-HOA and Yemeni forces, Robeson noted that while Yemen is clearly taking action to fight the war on terrorism within their own borders, their aggressive stance against terrorism also strengthens the entire network of coalition partners, whose focus is to defeat transnational terrorist organizations throughout the Horn of Africa region.

Brig. Gen. Robeson took command of CJTF-HOA on May 24, assuming the task of overseeing coalition counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa for U.S. Central Command in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
Having established a regional counter-terrorism headquarters at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti in mid-May, CJTF-HOA forces number more than 1,800, representing all branches of the U.S. armed services, coalition military members and civilian personnel.

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