By Rich Bartell, U.S. Army Africa Public AffairsApril 1, 2011
VICENZA, Italy - Following more than two weeks at sea supporting Operation Odyssey-Dawn, 22 of 26 U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) Soldiers were greeted by several Family members and their commander, Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, March 31 at USARAF Headquarters Building.
In a short ceremony, Hogg thanked the assembled team for their work in support of the operation.
"Thank you for your efforts and your service," Hogg said. "You realize that you just made history - it's the first time that U.S. Army Africa has been deployed in support of a named operation," the commanding general said.
USARAF Soldiers trained to work within a joint environment during an exercise called Judicious Response.
"That exercise helped everyone to understand how a joint task force works," Hogg said. "When U.S. Navy Africa picked up the mission and needed Army support, USARAF Soldiers responded and responded well," he said.
During the Operation Odyssey-Dawn mission the team was aboard the USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea.
Lt. Col. Bo Stuart from USARAF Civil Military Operations section served as the USARAF liaison officer and team leader during the mission.
According to Stuart, 26 Soldiers from USARAF took part in the mission working in areas spanning from operations and administration to logistics and supply. Representatives from the Judge Advocate General's Corps were also part of the team and continue to play an ongoing role.
Stuart praised the work of the team.
"Everyone did a great job, and the plans and operations section really rose to the occasion," Stuart said.
USARAF operations planners played an important role during the mission, and the briefings they provided were often translated into action.
"We briefed one day and it was on the television the next day. And that was an effort led primarily by USARAF planners," Stuart said.
Stuart mirrored Hogg's statement concerning training as a key for the success of the mission, saying they had some exercises prior to this mission that replicated a joint task force. So for the team, it was business as usual, and execution was just like they had practiced.
For Stuart and other team members, working with the U. S. Navy was a new experience.
"It was interesting learning how the Navy does things," Stuart said. "The task force was made up of predominantly Navy personnel so we had to adjust to their terms and acronyms rapidly, but after the first few days we picked up on the lingo and everyone found their niche," he said.
For Infantryman Sgt. 1st Class Joseph M. Kaminski, the mission was his first experience working on a U.S. Navy vessel. On the ship, Kaminski was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Joint Operations Center.
"Being out at sea and observing the Navy at work was a good learning experience," Kaminski said.
"Working with the Navy and the other services was a highlight of the mission. We worked through some challenges and completing the mission was great," he said.