Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), continuously works alongside coalition partners to help accomplish its mission. These strategic partnership aid in protecting U.S. forces and interests in the region as well as provide support to other countries within the Horn of Africa.
The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.K. Ministry of Defence have formed a partnership in the Horn of Africa and embedded members of the British Army to work alongside American Service members at CJTF-HOA. These Brits put the “combined” in Combined Joint Task Force and provide the U.S. Military with a fresh perspective, new ideas and unique experiences to their different sections within the headquarters.
British Army Col. Hugh Baker
British Army Col. Hugh Baker Director CJ5 Strategy and Plans, CJTF-HOA, has spent 25 of his almost 30-year military career working with Americans in some capacity. As Director CJ5, he and his team are responsible for planning, strategic engagement, and assessments for CJTF-HOA. CJ5 looks at the longer-term path of plans, strategic and operational thinking as well as setting the Task Force along the direction of travel the commanding general wants.
Baker is one of three British Army personnel embedded with CJTF-HOA. The trio provides different insights, experiences and ways of conducting the mission and it’s that perspective that can benefit the U.S. military personnel working alongside them.
“I think the fact that there’s one of us in J5 Plans and one of us in J3 Operations provides balance across a number of areas rather than concentrating only in one branch. Being U.K. embedded in a U.S. headquarters provides a very useful shared education process for all of us staff here,” Baker said. “To work collaboratively with partners and being distributed across key areas enhances overall staff capability as well as broadening everyone’s situational awareness.”
Past experiences working in plans and programs as well as in the joint environment with the U.S. military made Baker an obvious choice for the position.
“I’ve previously been a planning officer for J5 Plans and J35 Future Operations, I have a lot of operational experience working with U.S. conventional and unconventional forces, and I have worked in U.S. headquarters in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Baker said. “I’ve previously worked in Africa from 2015 to 2017, again working closely with U.S. partners.”
Although Baker has found himself in a similar position working with the Americans, this is his first experience working effectively as, “an American officer who happens to wear a British uniform and speaks with an English accent.”
“A lot is familiar having luckily had previous experience working with the U.S. so I am broadly used to U.S. processes and procedures,” Baker said. “It’s a busy operationally focused headquarters with a strong relationship with the camp run by the U.S. Navy.”
Baker has only recently begun his year-long tour at CJTF-HOA but he already has goals for himself and his team.
“I think we have an opportunity to develop Joint planning structures that we can establish as business as usual,” Baker said. “Establishing a deep planning process looking out to a 6-18-month planning horizon is one of my key objectives. I’m delighted to be here and this is another great opportunity to work with U.S. colleagues.”
Lt. Col. Craig Cudlipp British Army Lt. Col. Craig Cudlipp, Director CJ35 Future Operations (FUOPs) and Crisis Branch CJTF-HOA, is responsible for global force management, FUOPs plans and conducting New Normal U.S. Embassy site surveys as the CJTF-HOA crisis response lead. Cudlipp will travel in advance of, or with, the East Africa Response Force (EARF) if an embassy requests crisis security augmentation or military assisted departure.
“Crisis response is a no-fail mission and is taken very seriously not only by U.S. Africa Command but CJTF-HOA,” Cudlipp said. “It’s a privilege, especially leading it in terms of Department of State and Department of Defense allowing a Brit to lead the mission.”
Cudlipp has worked with the American military on previous deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and in another J35 department.
“I’ve worked with the Americans before but now I’m in a completely different role and a different direction of travel in terms of mission status,” Cudlipp said. “I’ve never been read in to the level I am now, especially certain mission aspects and responsible for that information as well. It’s quite cool actually. It’s not every day you stop and think ‘there’s probably a point in my career that I will either do this again more frequently or I might never do it again.”
COVID-19 has made parts of his job challenging; Cudlipp has expanded the mission parameters in terms of conducting surveys remotely via Microsoft Teams and secure video teleconference.
“When I arrived, COVID hit and all the flights and flight paths were closing down and the Brit I was replacing was trying to get out,” Cudlipp said. “I had 24-hours to learn the job from him. I was told all I was going to do is spend my time travelling around, writing reports and assessing situations. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been away twice due to COVID, all the surveys we need to conduct for countries and the embassies have been put on hold but are coming online as we speak.”
Despite the setbacks, Cudlipp has been impressed with the American military’s hospitality and patriotism.
“I’m astonished by how many people want to extend here, willing to extend here because it’s their duty and are very proud to extend, that’s quite awe inspiring,” Cudlipp said. “You’re proud to serve, it’s very evident and it’s not just a statement you throw out.”