Foreign policy advisor’s experience, knowledge vital to CJTF-HOA mission
There is one man at Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) whose job it is to ensure that this command is always in sync with larger foreign policy goals, whether it is with partner militaries or embassies across East Africa.
Jason Hyland, CJTF-HOA Foreign Policy Advisor, supports the commanding general on foreign policy issues, by coordinating with the Department of State and other agencies, and advising on the political, security and economic environment in the region. He is a Department of State Senior Foreign Service officer whose 30-year career has taken him to places as diverse as Iraq, Japan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and now Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. He has also been Director of the Office in the Department of State that handles U.S. relations with the Balkans.
He began his one-year tour at CJTF-HOA in September 2013, and in the past few months he has been an invaluable asset to Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell, CJTF-HOA commanding general.
“The job Jason does is critical to maintaining positive relationships with our USG (U.S. Government) partners, in addition to our effort to support military to military engagements, crisis response and personnel recovery,” Ferrell said. “Where I go, he goes, and together we're looking out for the best interests of the U.S., while interacting with our partners, allies and friends here in East Africa.”
While Hyland’s job involves many moving parts, he highlighted the close coordination he does with the Somalia Unit, which represents U.S. Government interests regarding Somalia, and is based at U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya.
“The Somalia unit is the liaison with the Somalia government because we don’t have a U.S. Embassy in Somalia,” he explained. “By staying in close touch with them I ensure we are aligned with their goals and objectives in promoting security and good governance there, and countering violent extremism.”
Most recently, Hyland has been involved, since mid-December 2013, in the whole-of-government effort with South Sudan, specifically in supporting CJTF-HOA’s work in protecting embassy personnel, and assisting in the drawdown of the mission, and the evacuation of American citizens.
“Right now we’re working very closely with our embassy in Juba, and addressing issues of security for the embassy,” Hyland said. “I’m in constant contact with the State Department’s Task Force, and with our embassy Juba leadership, helping to make sure that we’re always in sync. CJTF-HOA is at the forefront in this region in implementing U.S. policy on the “New Normal” to protect our missions when there are uncertain conditions. I find it very rewarding to have the opportunity to assist General Ferrell and the entire CJTF-HOA team in this important work.”
As a Senior Foreign Service Officer, Hyland has had several tours as a Deputy Chief of Mission, the second-in-charge at an embassy, as well as serving as a principal officer and special assistant. However, he said one of his most professionally satisfying tours was as Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader in Mosul, Iraq, during the Surge from 2007-2008.
His 80-member combined civilian and military team supported several initiatives in Ninewa Province, such as successfully restarting Hajj flights from Mosul after a dozen years and providing humanitarian and political support in the wake of the Sinjar bombings in Northern Iraq by Al Qaeda in 2007. He also assisted an Iraqi government initiative to protect the area’s rich cultural legacy, and encouraged agricultural cooperative agreements that became a model in the province.
After working as Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Canberra, Australia, from 2010 to 2013, he said coming back to work with the military was something he very much wanted to do.
“This is becoming one of my favorite assignments to date,” Hyland said. “It’s fascinating. I think that the United States is becoming more and more adept at working across agencies and with foreign partners and allies … It’s a real strength of our country. I am proud to be able to make a contribution.”
Specifically in Africa, Hyland said he likes “the challenge of being in a forward deployed environment, particularly working with Somalia. We’re doing important work and I wanted to bring my experience as a Foreign Service Officer to support the goals of the commanding general.”
As part of CJTF-HOA’s mission and vision statements, the goals are: Partner to defeat violent extremist organizations, conduct military-to-military engagement, crisis response, and personnel recovery.
“I've previously done a lot of work in areas where there is conflict, or where there's been conflict and we’re helping the government recover,” Hyland said. “For that reason, I'm glad to be able to put my experience to good use working with CJTF-HOA. I've been extremely impressed with the leadership, and the entire team here.”