By Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas ScottMarch 28, 2019
COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE -- HORN OF AFRICA, Djibouti -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa sent supplies and personnel from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, March 27, 2019, to assist the United States Agency for International Development with humanitarian assistance efforts in Maputo and Beira, Mozambique.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James D. Craig, commanding general, CJTF-HOA, arrived in Mozambique March 25, 2019, to get a first-hand look at the devastation Cyclone Idai caused throughout the region earlier this month.
"We are working in support of the USAID-led interagency team and the international community to provide delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Government of the Republic of Mozambique," Craig said. "We are responding as quickly and safely as possible to help bring relief from the devastation."
In addition to Craig, more than 50 CJTF-HOA joint personnel have been sent to Mozambique to assist with logistics and distribution of supplies. In addition, more than 100 joint service members have assisted with the effort at CJTF-HOA headquarters.
"We are the largest [DoD] presence in Africa," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Michael Fourte, director of current operations for CJTF-HOA. "We are also the command outfitted to do a mission like this."
In addition to troops, CJTF-HOA is in the process of transporting nearly 275 metric tons of food from the U.N. World Food Programme, as well as equipment and medical supplies, to the disaster-struck nation aboard two U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft.
According to U.S. Army Col. Ryan O'Connor, director of operations assigned to CJTF-HOA, the U.S. Department of State in Mozambique and USAID requested the assistance.
"We are a joint task force, and we have specialty capabilities and planners from across the joint force that can help us in crisis action planning," O'Connor said. "The first capability we have here is proximity. We are the one joint task force on the continent. We live here with our African partners every day, and we can reach the problem area faster than other forces."
O'Connor went on to explain the importance of a CJTF-HOA presence in the area and why it is vital for Craig himself to be on site.
"[Gen. Craig] is with the ambassador as well as USAID," said O'Connor. "He is doing an assessment to make sure he truly understands the scope and scale of the problem and exactly how we can best position our capabilities to support USAID."
Still on the ground in Beira, Craig praised the joint service personnel who are working on site and those coordinating response efforts back at CJTF-HOA headquarters.
"Our service members are highly trained and provide unique military capabilities and expertise that will support U.S. Government humanitarian assistance efforts," said Craig. "We care about the people of Mozambique and are focused on supporting USAID to ensure a comprehensive response to this crisis."