ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Political/Military Advisor, Marine Col. Paul Melshen, addressed the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Conference on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, held here June 25-27 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference Center.
Melshen delivered a presentation focused on the history, mission and scope of operations for CJTF-HOA on behalf of the CJTF commander, Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson who was accompanying Gen. Tommy Franks, commander, U.S. Central Command, on visits with heads of State in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
The purpose of the conference was to explore the impact of transnational terrorism on IGAD member states, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda and to develop a plan of action to be tabled at a future meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers.
Melshen told top officials of police, intelligence, military and foreign affairs ministries of IGAD member states, meeting collectively for the first time to discuss methods to counter the regional terror threat, "There should be no doubt, we are at war, and it is a world war. There is simply no other name for it."
For it's Global War on Terrorism mission, CJTF-HOA defines its operations area as the total airspace, land areas and coastal waters of Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen.
Understanding key IGAD objectives are to promote joint development strategies and to create an environment for foreign, cross-border and domestic trade and investment, Melshen noted, "In order for nations to truly develop and take their appropriate place on the world stage politically, socially, and economically, they must do so within a secure environment."
Melshen went on to say, "It will be impossible for African nations to develop to their vast potential and to take their long-deserved place at the leading edge of the hierarchy of states, unless they eliminate terrorism within their own countries. International business and international investment are the superhighways to rapid development. Unless nations can provide a secure environment, international business simply will not invest their money in an environment wrought with fear and uncertainty."
In discussing ongoing operations in the region, Melshen said, "In most cases, counter-terrorism operations will be conducted by the security forces of Horn of Africa nations, but CJTF-HOA stands ready to assist in any possible way. We are not concerned as to who does these operations or who gets the credit."
CJTF-HOA was formed specifically to oversee coalition force counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa for U.S. Central Command and has the 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 across the region.
Melshen also commented on CJTF-HOA contributions to the war on terrorism in the region, saying, "We at CJTF-HOA are here to assist our allies. In some cases, tactics, training, procedures, equipment, and intelligence provided by the U.S. and our coalition partners have contributed to the capabilities of our partners in the region to better deal with the problem of transnational terrorism."
Having established a regional counter-terrorism headquarters at the newly renovated 88-acre former French Foreign Legion post, Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, the total CJTF-HOA contingent numbers more than 1,800, representing all branches of the U.S. armed services, Coalition military members and civilian personnel.