CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti—Five Foreign Liaison Officers (FLOs) assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) participated in maritime security operations (MSO) familiarization at the Port of Djibouti, Oct. 23.
There are several liaison officers assigned from their individual countries serving here with CJTF-HOA. They share their knowledge and expertise while working together to help build partner capacity throughout the Horn of Africa and beyond.
"These Foreign Liaison Officers (FLOs) are assigned to CJTF-HOA in support of maritime security and counter-violent extremist organizations operations" said U.S. Army Col. Alejandro Navarrete, CJTF-HOA’s Exercise and Readiness Director, a former infantry officer. "Their ability to work together in a dynamic environment directly strengthens security along the coastlines of Djibouti and East Africa."
FLOs from South Korea, Japan, France, Italy, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Comoros work with CJTF-HOA to maintain operational access, increase development of security and regional stability with African partners, prepare to respond to crisis and increase the unity of effort, added Navarrete.
"These opportunities greatly enhance partner capability and maintain influence in the combined joint operating area," said Navarrete, who has also been deployed in support of CJTF-HOA for nearly three years. "Africa, its environment and unique challenges provide an ideal leadership laboratory for our officers and partners."
Together, the Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 8 and the FLOs embarked on three patrol boats to escort the Fleet Replenishment Oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187) off the coast of Djibouti, in the Gulf of Tadjourah.
Observing the U.S. Navy conduct MSO in Djibouti allowed Republic of Korea marine Major Hyunchang Choi to learn about CRS-8 and see them in action.
“The best thing about this tour was that we were able to participate in a real-world mission,” said Choi. “It was impressive to see how they escorted the ship. They were well-prepared and did a great job.”
Replenishment oilers such as the Kaiser provide much-needed fuel and supplies to U.S. Navy personnel operating in and around the area of operations. CRS-8 ensures they are kept safe to accomplish their mission.
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Dillon, deputy commander of CRS-8, said the unit’s primary mission is anti-terrorism force protection (ATFP), ensuring ships that come into port are protected from the time they arrive until they leave.
Dillon guided the FLOs throughout the operation and provided knowledge and insight on MSO. In addition, he learned about operations performed in the FLOs’ home countries.
“It was really nice to work with the FLOs,” said Dillon. “I learned how they provide maritime support in their countries. It is really important we work with all of our different partners. We (CRS-8) work closely with the Djiboutian Navy and Coast Guard, and this is an extension of that.”
Navarrete participated with the FLOs and explained the importance of the FLO’s visit with CRS-8.
"Having the FLOs witness first-hand how this mission is conducted improves our partnership and also improves trust," said Navarrete. "This will enable them to go back and share the knowledge of what they learned here with their respective countries."
“How CRS-8 maneuvers their boats, how they prepare for their mission, and their safety procedures and equipment were very interesting,” said Choi. “It was an honor and very special moment for me.”