Army chief visits Horn of Africa
April 27, 2009
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti (April 24, 2009) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said he was "staggered" at the number of missions being undertaken by members of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa as he visited Camp Lemonier for the first time, April 23.
"I, frankly, didn't appreciate the scope of what you all are doing here," said Casey, who had just come from a conference of African, Central Asian and Middle Eastern service chiefs in Kenya. He spoke at an all-hands call at Camp Lemonier.
Camp Lemonier, an expeditionary base, is the only U.S. military infrastructure on the African continent and supports personnel and operations across thousands of miles. Camp Lemonier has roughly 2,400 military members and contract civilians assigned. Soldiers here include the Army's 2-18th Field Artillery Regiment and several Civil Affairs units.
Casey met with civil affairs specialists and information support teams who have conducted medical and veterinary civil-action programs and military-to-military education benefitting several African countries' noncommissioned officer corps.
Soldiers' missions in Africa range from force protection to construction projects in remote areas and support of the joint task force headquarters. CJTF-HOA operates in and with 15 East African nations.
"This is a classic example of American service men and women reaching out and touching people and armed forces in other countries around the world," Casey said.
He added that he would carry the message of the Soldiers and their missions in Africa back to Washington with him.
"I am hugely impressed with the scope of the mission here and the impact the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines assigned here are making in this critical region of Africa," Casey said.
"I want to thank the men and women of CJTF-HOA for the contributions they are making. I know it is difficult being separated from your families; but there is something uniquely American about the willingness to serve selflessly to help others. It makes you proud to be an American."
Casey said 2009 is the Year of the noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
"As we looked across the Army at everything we were doing, it was clear to us it was the noncommissioned officers who were providing the glue that was holding this force together at a difficult time. I see that same spirit here."
Casey discussed the Defense budget, acquisition reform, the mission of the United States Africa Command, Army rotational cycles and recruiting changes, stop-loss, re-enlistment options and joint-service recognition for Soldiers assigned to CJTF-HOA.
(Staff Sgt. Lesley Waters, USAF, serves with CJTF-HOA Public Affairs.)