CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - The U.S. Army’s 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment recently completed a validation exercise confirming Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s ability to plan and support the East African Response Force mission May 27, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
CJTF-HOA planned and executed the validation after the 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, or Task Force Hurricane, from Miami, Fla., assumed responsibility of the EARF mission from the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, or Task Force Seminoles, who will return to Orlando, Fla.
The exercise, which began with an early morning no-notice recall, focused on the Hurricanes’ ability to quickly ready and mobilize the EARF in response to a crisis scenario.
“The EARF is a rifle infantry company that is on standby for a short notification to deploy rapidly in response to a crisis in a permissive environment,” said Capt. Bryan Hotchkiss, EARF Company commander. “We are to deploy in a permissive environment in order to reinforce embassies within our Horn of Africa area of operation, or facilitate a military assist and control.“
The U.S. Army developed the regionally aligned forces initiative to provide combatant commanders with rapidly deployable forces, which can relocate anywhere in the world at a moment's notice. The EARF is regionally aligned with U.S. Africa Command, and co-located at Camp Lemonnier. It is key to the CJTF-HOA mission to strengthen East African partner nation militaries by conducting crisis response and personnel recovery supporting U.S. military, diplomatic and civilian personnel throughout East Africa.
“They need our protection, and it is necessary for when situations become uncertain,” Hotchkiss explained. “Because we have identified that our diplomatic missions in this region are important and [the assets we provide] are essential for them to maintain their diplomatic presence.”
Though comprised primarily of Soldiers, the EARF functions as a joint response unit, employing troops from across the U.S. military services to accomplish the mission. For example, the U.S. Navy provides Explosive Ordnance Disposal capabilities and the U.S. Air Force provides air support and rapid transport for the response forces. This joint culture is vital to CJTF-HOA’s mission of providing peace and stability to the region.
“Multiple services participated today in this exercise to include Air Force [Joint Terminal Attack Controllers], Navy EOD, The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa staff in order to facilitate, load and deploy the EARF in a crisis response scenario,” Hotchkiss said.
Pfc. Cory Middleton, EARF Company 2nd Platoon radio telephone operator, said that he feels this mission is a huge honor and that for him, EARF is about staying prepared.
“Basically our mission is preparedness, if anything was to ever go down, we need to be prepared, we need to be ready to go,” Middleton said. “The purpose of the EARF, is that we are supposed to be ready if we ever get called to go to an embassy or if anything ever goes down, we are ready to fight.”