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Commandant visits CJTF-HOA

By Sgt. Matthew B. Roberson | | June 20, 2003

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The Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps visited the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa here, June 19 to congratulate Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen on a job well done.

Gen. Michael W. Hagee and Sgt. Maj. Alford L. McMichael addressed all branches of service and then answered questions regarding current issues and future operations.

During the address, Hagee praised CJTF-HOA saying, " I want to thank you for what you are doing; it is extremely important in the Global War on Terrorism."

He went on to say, "This was a relatively unstable and unsecure area here in the Horn of Africa before your arrival.  Since your arrival, that security situation has changed, and it's a direct result of what you are doing. 

"The countries here have begun to cooperate with one another, and that is the first step in this Global War on Terrorism.  The reason they are cooperating is because of the engagement and security cooperation you are setting up here."

Hagee recognized each branch of the service in his speech and said they were all accomplishing the counter-terrorism mission of detecting, disrupting and defeating transnational terrorism.

"This is a joint operation, and we recognize it as such," said Hagee. "What you are doing here is quite important to your individual services, but it's equally important for the nation and the people here in the Horn of Africa and up through Yemen."

"We understand that your mission here is as important as any other mission being conducted in the world," said McMichael. "Your presence here lets the world know that we are the premiere force in total readiness.

"You should be patting each other on the back and looking at each other with great pride knowing that what you are doing here is truly making a difference in the Global War on Terrorism."

The Commandant ended his speech by commenting on the Marine Corps role during Operation Iraqi Freedom, "There is no other force, except the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy that can project combat power ashore in such a short period of time, and then sustain it over almost 600 miles."

The speech was followed by a tour of Camp Lemonier, in which Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, CJTF-HOA commander, showed the commandant and sergeant major the troops living spaces along with other facilities they use such as the weight room and dining facility. 

Although the commandant was only at Camp Lemonier a few hours, he made a point of finding time to stop by the berthing areas and answer questions concerning awards, time left in country and a variety of other issues with Marines deployed here in support of counter-terrorism operations. 

McMichael said the trip was extremely special because he got to see first hand the job the Marines of CJTF-HOA are doing, and because this was his last trip as the fourteenth sergeant major of the Marine Corps.

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