Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA) / Operation Octave Shield
Primary Operating Location: Camp Le Monier
Secondary Operating Location/s: Various across the Horn of Africa Combined Joint Operating Area (CJOA)
– Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)
– Special Operations Command Forward – East Africa (SOCFWD-EA)
Start Date: October 2005
End Date: Ongoing
Summary: Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA) supported partner nation military operations in Somalia and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa Combined Joint Operating Area (CJOA) to defeat the Al Qaeda network and associated forces, conducted focused military-to-military engagement to strengthen East African partner nation militaries, and conducted crisis response and personnel recovery in support of US military, diplomatic, and civilian personnel throughout East Africa in order to protect and defend the national security interests of the United States. The Horn of Africa CJOA initially consisted of Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, and the Seychelles. As of mid-2010, the CJOA no longer included Eritrea or Somalia. Though OEF-HOA was the operational name for this overarching campaign against the Al Qaeda network and other terrorist organizations in East Africa, operational activities in support of that campaign plan were conducted under the codename Operation Octave Shield. This relationship was not readily obvious and it had been misreported that OEF-HOA had been renamed Operation Octave Shield.
On 29 October 2002, during a Department of Defense Briefing, General Tommy Franks, head of US Central Command (CENTCOM), confirmed that forces were operating out of Djibouti, though he declined to reveal what exactly the soldiers were doing or where they were operating. He did state that there were already some 800 troops, either ashore or afloat. Also on 29 October 2002, reports began to surface that indicated that the command elements of the 2nd Marine Division would deploy to Djibouti in support of operations in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
Developments in early November 2002 indicated that a command ship, most likely the USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20), would depart for the region in support of Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa. This later turned out to be the case. Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) passed through the Suez Canal on 8 December 2002, as they traveled toward northeast Africa. It took approximately 18 hours for the ship to travel through the Suez Canal. On 12 December 2002, the headquarters for CJTF-HOA arrived on station to oversee operations in support of the global war on terrorism in the Horn of Africa region, subsequently known as Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa.
CJTF-HOA began moving all headquarters personnel and equipment from its flagship, USS Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden, into facilities at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti on 6 May 2003. The newly renovated 88-acre camp, a former French Foreign Legion post owned by the Djiboutian government, would serve as CJTF-HOA’s expeditionary headquarters. CJTF-HOA presence in Djibouti and the duration of operations across the region were tied to accomplishment of the counter-terrorism mission, not a fixed period of time. The CJTF-HOA mission would remain focused on detecting, disrupting and defeating transnational terrorism in conjunction with coalition partners across the Horn of Africa.
In 2008, the US established US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and responsibility for OEF-HOA subsequently passed from CENTCOM to the new command. OEF-HOA had also provided tertiary support to US efforts in Yemen, which remained in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, and under AFRICOM, OEF-HOA continued to provide support to such operations. However, with reports in February 2013 that the US had established a base in Saudi Arabia around 2010 to support unmanned aerial vehicle operations it is possible that support for Yemen operations had, at least in part, migrated away from the AFRICOM area of responsibility.
In mid-2013, there appears to have been a change in the nomenclature for the special operations task force affiliated with this mission. The 2014 Special Operations Command Fact Book lists the task force as “Special Operations Command Forward-East (Special Operations Command and Control Element-Horn of Africa),” but other sources indicate that it should in fact be “Special Operations Command Forward – East Africa,” which is also abbreviated SOCFWD-EA. This change appears to be part of a plan to streamline the nomenclature for Special Operations Command Africa’s (SOCAFRICA) task forces on the continent as a whole.
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