CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Like most military command's insignias, the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa's distinctive crest pays homage to proud military rich traditions and history. In fact, the CJTF-HOA insignia traces its roots to both WWIII-era American and centuriess-old African military legacies.
Using the logo of the 2nd Marine Division, the first unit assigned to establish the CJTF in Djibouti, and the East Africa Maasai Nation flag, the insignia's creators blended the two images and emblazoned it with a map of the Horn of Africa to create CJTF-HOA's insignia.
Units from 2nd Marine Division began wearing its scarlet and gold spearhead-shaped shoulder patch in late 1943 for service in the Pacific Theater. The patch features a hand holding a torch, with the stars of the Southern Cross constellation, which is a reference to the battle of Guadalcanal.
Although the Marine Corps officially disallowed shoulder patches in 1947, the insignia still appears on buildings, signs, documents, and non-uniform clothing. The insignia of Camp Lejeune, NC - the location where CJTF-HOA was established Oct. 19, 2002 - retains the spearhead shape and general color scheme of the 2nd Marine Division.
The spears in CJTF-HOA came directly from the Maasai Nation Flag. Maasai, who live in Kenya and Tanzania, are known for their distinctive customs and dress. Its warriors, who rely on cattle for food, are famous for their ability to protect herds from wild animals such as lions.
The CJTF-HOA crest has five elements which include:
•Crossed spears of the African Maasai warrior to represent offensive capability.
•Spearhead shaped shield to represent "tip of the spearr" and forward-based operations.
•Map of Horn of Africa across the shield, a reference to the CJTF-HOA geographic area of responsibility
•5 stars representing the Southern Cross constellation, a reference to the U.S. Marine battle of Guadalcanal.
•Numeral 2 for 2nd Marine Division.
•Hand holding a lit torch is the heraldic symbol of fame.
Today, the CJTF-HOA insignia proudly represents more than 3,000 service members from all branches of the United States military whose mission is to support partner nation military operations in Somalia to defeat terrorist organizations, conduct focused military-to-military engagement to strengthen East African partner nation militaries, and conduct crisis response and personnel recovery in support of U.S. military, diplomatic, and civilian personnel throughout East Africa in order to protect and defend the national security interest of the United States.
Editor's note: The following information was modified from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Annual History Report, Command Year 2012 - 2013, written by U.S. Army Col. Neil C. Glad, CJTFF-HOA Command Historian.