News: Exercise tests response force
Story by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - U.S. soldiers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa tested their rapid response capability during an exercise here recently.
The East Africa Response Force conducted an embassy response exercise to hone their skills of quickly reacting to a threat facing a U.S. Embassy in the region. It is comprised of members from the U.S. Army’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
“Overall, we provide the Horn of Africa with a versatile, responsive force that is trained and ready to meet any of the commander’s requirements,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jason Wolter, 1-63 CAB commander.
The exercise called for soldiers to respond to an early morning alert simulating hostile activity at an embassy. Following the call to mobilize, the EARF was recalled, equipped, loaded onto an aircraft and ready to quickly leave the runway. The ability to quickly mobilize and respond to a threat is crucial to not only embassy security in the local area, but stability on the continent of Africa as a whole.
“We offer the CJTF-HOA commander an organic quick response force to respond to crises or contingencies in the continent or Horn of Africa,” Wolter said.
The 1-63 CAB is the first unit deployed under the Army’s regionally aligned forces initiative. The intent of the RAF concept is to provide versatile, responsive and consistently available Army forces to operate across a range of military operations. These include the region’s quick reaction force, site security for personnel recovery operations, and mil-to-mil engagements with partner nations. In addition to core Army training, RAF forces undergo regional alignment training which covers language and regional expertise, developing a culturally-aware force able to effectively operate in a host nation.
U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Africa Command, stressed the importance of the RAF saying the demand for soldiers with region-specific training has always been there.
Though comprised primarily of soldiers, the EARF functions as a joint response unit, employing troops from across the 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.
“The joint environment here in the Horn of Africa has provided the 1-63 with an absolutely unique opportunity to train and conduct missions with airmen, sailors and Marines,” Wolter said.