News: Maritime civil affairs departs CJTF-HOA for good
Story by Tech. Sgt. Megan Crusher
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - After five years assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, the Maritime Civil Affairs Unit left recently and because of the changing mission for civil affairs here, they will not be replaced with another maritime unit.
"We used to do a wide scope of humanitarian assistance and humanitarian civic assistance, but we don't really do that anymore," said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Arthur Prevatte, officer in charge of the unit. "We are now narrowing the focus towards military-to-military operations with troop contributing countries."
During the last six months, the reserve unit out of Virginia made up of about 20 members, completed operations in Djibouti, Kenya and Tanzania.
The team assigned to the Joint Civil Affairs Team in Tanzania worked alongside their Army counterparts and helped with the U.S. president’s visit and conducted assessments of previous civil affairs projects.
The groups in Kenya worked with the Kenyan Maritime Authority to improve maritime domain awareness and the functioning of the regional maritime rescue coordination center, Prevatte said.
Petty Officer 1st Class Todd Miller was in Kenya for five months working with the Kenyan Wildlife Service, orphanages and Red Cross services.
"I was a seagoing sailor and got to imbed in a country on land," Miller said. "It was very rewarding to help."
The sailors worked with the Kenyan Defense Forces to perform field training exercises and teach classes on field communications, navigation, field sanitation and civil military operations, Prevatte said.
"The teams in Kenya conducted mil-to-mil training on counter-smuggling operations, basic sea survival courses with paramilitary and military organizations," Prevatte said. “They also completed redeployment site surveys for One Health missions and worked at the operational level with KDF to write civil military operations and standard operating procedures."
Other accomplishments over the years include building a children’s school to keep them from having to walk as far as 5 km to attend class, facilitating a basic sea survival train-the-trainer course to help prevent loss of life in the coastal waters and planting nearly 600 trees in Kenya.
"Casuarina trees are used for construction in this area of Kenya," said U.S. Navy Lt. Cory Cole, officer in charge of a team. "These trees are not only important for revegetation of the area, but if they (the school) have a plan - a phased cut-down of these trees - it will create a revenue source for the school. So it's a sustainable project that will continue to give back."
While the groups of two-to-six people were embedded in Kenya and Tanzania, the unit’s headquarters, comprised of two enlisted members and one officer, stayed at Camp Lemonnier.
"Our job was to take care of our sailors downrange so they could perform these missions with our partner nations," said Master Chief Petty Officer Douglas Davis, assistant officer in charge of the unit.
After a productive tour in Africa, Prevatte said their greatest achievement was, "first off, bringing everyone home safely, but also improving KDF's civil military operations capabilities."
The Army's 443th Civil Affairs Battalion, a reserve unit out of Massachusetts, will continue the mission at CJTF-HOA to support stabilizing and strengthening security in East Africa through military to military engagements with partner nations.