Horn of Africa Force Seeks to Win Friends, Prevent Terrorism
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2005 U.S. military forces in the Horn of Africa are working to win the hearts and minds of the people and are preventing the spread of terrorism throughout the region, the area's U.S. commander said today.
In a Pentagon news briefing, Marine Maj. Gen. Timothy Ghormley, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, said that the U.S. mission there is not one of direct force, but of capacity building. The nations in the Horn of Africa are all sovereign nations, with the exception of Somalia, and have functioning governments. The task force is trying to improve the ability of these governments to serve their people, Ghormley said.
"What you have is an area that is at the crossroads," he said. "You have nations that want to go forward, that want to join the greater population. They wish to become a part of a functioning society. We want to give a regional approach. We want them to be able to enjoy this fidelity and security."
Current operations in the Horn of Africa can be described as pre-conflict, Ghormley said. His soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are using civil-military operations, humanitarian assistance and military-to-military training to deny terrorists any foothold in the region, he said.
The task force has made significant progress in the area, and the individual nations are cooperating in joint training, Ghormley said.
"Each nation understands the dire straits that we could find ourselves in if they don't come aboard and enhance their capabilities to counter terrorism," he said.
The work the military is doing in the Horn of Africa is generational, meaning it will leave a lasting impact, Ghormley said, and it proves that U.S. forces can be used for something other than conflict. The task force has completed hundreds of projects, including hospitals, clinics, schools, bridges and wells, he said. The benefits of these projects can be seen immediately in how they improve the lives of citizens, he said.
"Each time you finish up, you see these people and they are truly thankful," he said.
The task force is made up of 700 to 800 military members from all branches of service, Ghormley said. They operate throughout Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia.