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Task Force Rawhide Replaces Marine Company

By Sgt. Matthew B. Roberson, USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti, Aug. 12, 2003 – Task Force Rawhide has replaced Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, as the guard force for the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa here.

Task Force Rawhide, part of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti- Terrorism), took over security duties for Camp Lemonier in support of the combined task force's mission of detecting, disrupting and defeating transnational terrorists operating in the East African region.

Being an element of the anti-terrorism brigade's mission to detect, deter and defend against terrorism worldwide, Task Force Rawhide brings terrorism expertise to CJTF-HOA that most infantry battalions do not have.

The task force's Marines maintain higher levels of close-in marksmanship skills because they take part in the mandatory Enhanced Marksmanship Program course, which is regular training for the anti-terrorism brigade. They are also trained to identify terrorist surveillance efforts prior to actual attacks and to conduct personnel-protection operations.

In addition to advanced training, the task force also brings valuable assets to assist in the counter-terrorism mission. "We have everything an infantry company does, plus snipers, designated marksmen and better optics," said Lt. Col. Charlie Dunston, Task Force Rawhide commanding officer. "We also have the capability to be reinforced by a FAST (Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team) platoon if needed."

Dunston noted that future plans for the camp involve enhancing the overall security of the compound and refining security operations. "As the camp grows, we will continue to look for ways to run things more efficiently," he added.

Other plans include continuing to develop closer relationships with the U.S. Air Force, French and Djiboutian security forces aboard the camp, said Dunston.

In combat situations a security force must refine security operations and look for ways to run things more efficiently, said Maj. Scott Smith, Company A commanding officer.

Since its arrival, Smith said his company has been constantly improving security positions, building bunkers, upgrading and adding more posts, and redefining the role of the quick-reaction force.

"One of the things we've tried to do with the QRF is run daily drills we thought were likely threats to the camp," said Smith.

Staying focused and avoiding complacency were key points Smith said he planned to stress to the incoming unit. "After being here for a while, this place can be perceived as a more secure place than it is," he said. "We're in an area that rates hazardous duty pay for a reason."

From standing post to conducting training and drills, Smith said the company has performed professionally and he couldn't be happier with its performance while in the Horn of Africa.

"I think my Marines have done a tremendous job since they've been out here," said Smith. "They came here motivated, focused, with a strong sense of urgency and dedicated to performing the mission."

Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, CJTF-HOA commander, echoed the sentiment. "It's been a long time since I've seen a unit show the level of maturity and responsibility that Alpha 1/24 has," said Robeson. "But when the decision was made that the 4th MEB was going to replace them, I made the recommendation for (the Marines from Task Force Rawhide) to come out due to the higher level of training and technology they possess."

Robeson added that Task Force Rawhide has some big shoes to fill, but he's confident it can accomplish the mission.

(Marine Sgt. Matthew B. Roberson is assigned to the Public Affairs Office, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMarine Cpl. Jacob Wells, a sniper attached to Task Force Rawhide, scans the terrain at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, from an elevated post using an M-49 spotting scope. The task force, a unit from the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, just assumed duties as the camp's guard force. The camp is headquarters for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. Photo by Sgt. Matthew B. Roberson, USMC  
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