MOGADISHU, Somalia — U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto met with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and other key Somali leaders during a visit to Mogadishu, Somalia, June 11.
Discussions during the key leader engagement centered on the incremental progress the U.S. interagency team has witnessed in Somalia, as well as U.S. whole of government support for the Federal Government of Somalia.
“Employing an integrated interagency defense, diplomacy, and development approach, our efforts in Somalia help contain a potentially broader regional security threat,” said Waldhauser. “The assistance provided in Somalia is truly an international effort and there are encouraging signs of change, progress, and emerging options for Somalis.”
AFRICOM partners with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Mission in Somalia to help the Federal Government of Somalia set the conditions required for lasting security and stability.
“U.S. security assistance to Somalia is an important part of our efforts to work with the people and government of Somalia for peace and stability,” said Yamamoto. “Peace and stability for Somalia means more stability in the entire region. It also means that the people of Somalia will be able to better focus on building a prosperous future.”
Under the leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia, incremental progress has been achieved as security gains have paved the way for the political progress of the past several years. Somali security forces and their partners continue to apply pressure on terrorist networks in Somalia to create the conditions for further political and economic development.
“Groups such as al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia seek to create a bankrupt future for the Somali people,” said Waldhauser. “Creating a more secure environment enables the Somali people and government to advance economic and development opportunities in Somalia.”
Somali National Security Forces and their partners continue to make incursions into territory previously beset by terrorists. These Somali-led operations are necessary to advance Federal Government of Somalia objectives, spur economic activity and development, and release Somali citizens from the oppression and coercion of al-Shabaab.
“Somali security forces are demonstrating command and control of their forces, success against al-Shabaab, and are holding ground,” said Col. Charles Bergman, lead integrator for U.S. Africa Command operations in Africa. “They are earning the respect of the Somali people.”
For example, Somali forces recently cleared the south bank of the Shabelle River near the village of Bariire and established a security presence in the area. This mission was the latest in a series of operations designed to force al-Shabaab out of strongholds in Lower Shabelle. Operations such as this enable the Somali government to restore critical infrastructure in places like Bariire, leading to increased economic activity.
“Having a Somali force that is disciplined, looks sharp, and has a Somali flag on their shoulder means something,” Bergman said. “It is important for Somalis to know their military is a force for good and that progress is occurring.”
The desired future state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to destabilize Somalia or its neighbors, nor threaten U.S. and international allies interests’ in the region. It is an environment that advances economic development and advancements in government.
CJTF-HOA holds change of command ceremony
Service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa welcomed their new commander during a ceremony, June 12.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James D. Craig, outgoing commander of CJTF-HOA, transferred responsibility to U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael D. Turello. U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, presided over the ceremony.
Waldhauser thanked Craig for his steady leadership and recognized Craig’s accomplishments in leading his staff in the development of support plans and East Africa strategy, hosting the East Africa Security Forum, response to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, and the forward training and posturing of the East Africa Response Force in response to a security threat to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“It is a pleasure for me to be part of this change of command ceremony,” said Waldhauser. “Over the past 12 months, Maj. Gen. Craig led this command’s operations, exercises and engagements as part of a mission to maintain access and influence, enhance partner military capabilities and protect U.S. interests. I applaud his team for their outreach and numerous engagements over the past year to strengthen our partnerships and alliances across East Africa.”
Waldhauser took a moment to reflect upon the future of CJTF-HOA and its importance in East Africa.
“Since 2003, when CJTF-HOA first came into existence, the security environment in East Africa has continually evolved, and this command has experienced multiple, incremental changes to its mission and focus of effort,” said Waldhauser. “CJTF-HOA successfully advised and assisted our partners while building, training and equipping units. These actions expanded partnerships while contributing to the security and development of East Africa.”
Waldhauser stated that he recognized how fortunate CJTF-HOA is to have Turello as their new commander.
“Maj. Gen. Turello has the experience and qualities to successfully lead this command,” said Waldhauser. “I know he will continue to foster our important partnerships throughout East Africa, build on the accomplishments of CJTF-HOA and facilitate the transition to a standing Joint Task Force. Most importantly, I am confident in Mike’s genuine leadership and his ability to take care of our service members and civilians to ensure they are successful.”
Before the official change over, Craig thanked the many visitors and service members for attending the ceremony during his final address as CJTF-HOA’s commanding general.
“It is encouraging to know that here today we have representation from AFRICOM’s headquarters and component forces, our coalition, partner and regional security forces as well as various governmental and non-governmental entities and agencies,” said Craig. “I believe that this demonstrates a clear understanding that our mission is a combined effort; in which all entities represented here today are essential as we look toward the goal of a secure, stable and prosperous Africa.”
Craig expressed his appreciation to his leadership team, units and staff for several accomplishments under his command. He specifically recognized the 25 casualty evacuation missions, EARF, partner engagements, English language discussion groups, rapid response capability training and the completion of the Women’s Medical Clinic in Ali Oune, Djibouti.
“I have constantly been amazed over the past year at your many talents, your dedication, and ability to come together as an incredibly strong and capable team, all against the backdrop of a very complex mission set in an ever changing, dynamic environment,” said Craig. “Every day brings its challenges and I have witnessed firsthand your ability to rise to each one that is thrown your way. You’ve all provided me with great support, what I ask is that you provide that to Maj. Gen. Turello as well.”
With the passing of the task force flag, the change of command was complete. Turello thanked the many visitors during his remarks and shared his sentiments on the future ahead.
“I look forward to many future engagements and thoughtful conversations with all of you,” said Turello. “I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve once again with AFRICOM, and with the men and women of this distinguished organization.”
Turello will now be responsible for overseeing CJTF-HOA’s efforts in continuing to develop enduring partnerships, helping to build the defense capabilities of African partners and regional organizations, and the ongoing efforts to deter and defeat threats operating in Africa. Turello recognized Craig’s dedication in working towards those efforts.
“Maj. Gen. Craig, I congratulate you on another job well done,” said Turello. “We’ve known each other a long time, and I am always impressed by your dedication to the mission and to your service members wherever you serve. Once again, you have demonstrated exceptional leadership that is reflected in the success of your command here in the Horn of Africa. I would serve with you in any battle, at any time and in any place. You are a great credit to our nation.”
Turello’s closing words recognized the efforts of CJTF-HOA’s service members.
“I’ve been in a few deployed headquarters in my time, and I can see the bedrock professional pride you take in accepting the many challenges and doing a job well,” said Turello. “I sincerely look forward to serving with all of you as we continue to build on the efforts and service of those who have gone before us.” Source:Africam