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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Airmen continue humanitarian efforts in Djibouti

8 May 2007
Story by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Greg Bluethmann
Det. 4, Air Force News Agency

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti (AFNEWS) – Nearly two hundred Airmen deployed to Africa provide airlift support for humanitarian aid to the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa mission.

Providing peace and stability to the region is the main objective for the CJTF-HOA mission and the services try to accomplish this by winning the hearts and minds of natives who live in the Horn of Africa.

"One of the biggest things we do in this AOR is actually try to change peoples opinions that are there because of what they've been told about Americans, now our goal is to get out there as Americans and let them experience who we are and what we are" said Chief Master Sergeant John Harris, the command chief for the CJTF-HOA AOR.

Servicemembers in the region try to accomplish this by going out into the community and volunteering their time. English discussion groups are one of the programs Americans support that foster a good working relationship with their host nation.

"The English Discussion Group is basically a way for us to interact with the Africans, and be able to establish a community relations program" said Senior Master Sgt. Sylvester Shaw, the English Discussion Group coordinator for Camp Lemonier. "We at Camp Lemonier are able to provide the manpower through volunteers to come out and listen to the African students as they practice their English."

Another vital mission the Air Force supports in the region is search and rescue operations for all branches. C-130 Hercules maintainers play a vital role in this mission to keep the HC-130Ps ready to go on a moment's notice.

"We provide the maintenance to keep the C-130s in the air. We're on 24-hour alert, to answer the call" said Master Sergeant Patrick Melady, the HC-130P/N production supervisor.

"Coming out here without knowing what you're doing would make it a little harder," said Senior Airman Michael Ruehrwein, an instrument and flight controls technician for the C-130.

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa is a unit of United States Central Command. The organization's mission is to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect Coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism. More than 1,500 people from each branch of the U.S. military, civilian employees, Coalition forces and Partner nations make up the organization. The area of responsibility for CJTF-HOA includes the countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Photo: Djiboutians crowd a classroom to participate in an English discussion group session. The U.S. Embassy started the program, but they rely heavily on support from service members stationed on Camp Lemonier to make the program a success. The English discussion groups are just one of the programs Americans use to foster community relations with their host nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Daren Reehl)

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