IRINnews Africa – NAIROBI, – The US counter-terrorism warship, the USS Mt Whitney, is to leave the Horn of Africa region as the operation moves into its next phase.
A statement from the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), received by IRIN on Thursday, said headquarters personnel and equipment were being moved ashore into facilities at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. The move was due to be completed by mid-May.
“The movement of the CJTF-HOA headquarters ashore does not signal any change in focus for coalition counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, but rather represents a logical ‘next step’ in the progress of CJTF-HOA operations,” the statement said.
“The CJTF mission is, and will continue to be, to detect, disrupt and defeat transnational terrorism in conjunction with coalition partners across the Horn of Africa region.”
The statement added that the USS Mount Whitney, which was based in the Gulf of Aden, would return to homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, for maintenance and to begin preparing for other operations.
With the move ashore, the total CJTF-HOA contingent at Camp Lemonier will number over 1,800 people, representing all branches of the US armed services, anti-terrorism coalition military members and civilian personnel.
“CJTF-HOA presence in Djibouti and the duration of operations across the region are tied to accomplishment of the counter-terrorism mission, not a fixed period of time,” the statement said.
It also hailed Djibouti’s role in the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa region.
The statement noted that the CJTF-HOA’s information capacity now meant it could connect to more coalition partners and agencies and move information faster than at any previous point in the operation.
The statement recalled that the CJTF headquarters was formed to oversee operations in the Horn of Africa – namely Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen – in support of the global war on terrorism.