Four days after their official transfer of authority ceremony, U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s East Africa Response Force deployed for the first time since being established earlier this year.
The Soldiers loaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules Dec. 14, and deployed to South Sudan, supporting the U.S. Embassy’s ordered departure.
“When the 1/18th arrived in Djibouti, we stressed that they needed to be ready to hit the ground running,” said Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA, commanding general. “And, they’ve proven they were. This is why we’re here, and all of the joint CJTF-HOA team is coming together to support them. I’m proud of the work they are doing.”
The Soldiers hail from the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., known as the “Vanguard Nation.”
They are the second unit assigned to the East Africa Response Force, or EARF, part of a new initiative of regionally aligned forces, which provides the commander of U.S. Africa Command an additional capability to respond to crises and contingencies within East Africa.
“I am extremely proud of the professionalism and selfless service of the ‘Vanguard Nation’ as we protect facilities throughout the Horn of Africa. We are on point for the Nation, and responsible for protecting the U.S. Embassy in Juba this holiday season,” said Lt. Col. Robert Magee, commander of the 1/18th CAB, who is deployed with the response force. “By doing so, we’re supporting the ambassador’s diplomatic mission to resolve conflict here in South Sudan.”
Magee said embassy security personnel noted that the EARF’s arrival seemed to help calm the entire city.
“Prior to our landing, widespread small arms fire occurred throughout the city for three days running,” said Magee, but he added that the South Sudan army and their national police “deserve the credit for restoring security in Juba.”
The U.S. Army developed the regionally aligned forces initiative to provide combatant commanders with rapidly deployable forces, which can relocate anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. The 1/18th CAB is regionally aligned with Africa, specifically the Horn of Africa region, key to the CJTF-HOA mission to strengthen East African partner nation militaries by conducting crisis response and personnel recovery supporting U.S. military, diplomatic and civilian personnel throughout East Africa.