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    Not on Our Watch: Army and Navy protect each other on land and sea

    Not on our Watch

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Aidana Baez | U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Abel Baez, squad leader, Company A, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry...... read more read more

    DJIBOUTI - Approximately 154 nautical miles to the northeast and 16 years in the past, a tragedy occurred that has shaped how the U.S. Navy protects its ships. On October 12, 2000, a small fiberglass boat carrying two passengers approached the port side of the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole, while is was harbored for a routine refueling mission at the port of Aden, Yemen. At 11:18 a.m., the small boat detonated causing the deaths of 17 U.S. sailors and injuring 39 others.
    Since the attack, the Navy has revamped its security measures and placed significant emphasis on force protection for ships in port and while in transit.

    Coastal Riverine Squadron 8 (CRS-8), a multi-service U.S. Navy and Coast Guard unit based out of Newport, Rhode Island, and Company A, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, an Army National Guard unit based out of Hollywood, Florida, are both tasked with ensuring the tragedy of the USS Cole does not happen on their watch.

    “We are here to prevent another USS Cole,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Emily H. Brockway, antiterrorism officer. “That’s our charge, there will never ever be another USS Cole.”

    Providing security for any mission is a multi-faceted endeavor. There is no clear-cut definition of a possible threat and threats have to be assessed from every angle. The soldiers assigned to Company A bring years of experience in infantry tactics and techniques that enhance force protection for CRS-8.

    “To get to this port and launch our riverines, we need the Army,” said Brockway. “This is a working fishing port, so [Company A] can’t shut down the port entirely, but they screen people as they come in and make sure no suspicious vehicles enter or block our vehicles.”

    Company A provides convoy security, entry control point security and a roving security patrol for CRS-8 to ensure they arrive and depart safely from Port de Peche, Djibouti.

    “We come out here and make sure there is nothing suspicious that might impede the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Abel Baez. “Our job is to make sure they can do their job.”

    By providing land-based force protection, the soldiers allow CRS-8 to concentrate on getting their boats into the water, so they can provide security for the vessels arriving to the port.

    “Our job is to do what they do out in the water, but on land,” said Baez. “In order for them to go out into the water, they need our assistance.”

    CRS-8 provides water-based force protection for high value U.S Navy vessels that arrive to Port of Djibouti in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. The Port of Djibouti is a resupply port for the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa.

    If the riverines don’t get in the water, the ship cannot come to port, said Brockway. If the ship doesn’t get to the port, then it can’t support the mission for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa.

    The Port of Djibouti is located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea and operates major international shipping lines connecting Asia, Africa and Europe.

    Both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy work hard to ensure the ships are safe, said Brockway.

    CRS-8 and Company A have been working together on the port mission since Company A arrived in the Horn of Africa in May, replacing Company B, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, based out of Sanford, Florida.

    “I thought it was going to be a rough transfer because the last unit that went home was really great,” said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Sean P. Cox, senior enlisted leader. “But, these guys have been awesome.”

    The two units have established a relationship that extends beyond the port mission.

    Brockway added that another successful example of the partnership between these two units can be found in how one Army officer’s initiative saved the Navy money.

    “1st Lt. [Michael] Zorilla completely reconfigured all of the landside sectors of fire,” said Brockway. “His plan included removing unnecessary shipping containers, which ends up saving the Navy about $58,000 annually.

    Because Zorilla came from an educated and experienced position, Brockway elaborated, he was able to explain why the shipping containers and their placement did more harm than good to the overall force protection.

    Working together to accomplish the mission is the cornerstone of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. CJTF-HOA’s strategic vision is to work with partner nations, coalition forces, and interagency/intergovernmental organizations to achieve a unified effort.



    Date Taken: 08.31.2016
    Date Posted: 09.01.2016 04:30
    Story ID: 208664
    Location: DJ
    Hometown: MIRAMAR, FL, US
    Hometown: WEST PALM BEACH, FL, US

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