Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quick-Reaction Force Stands Up in East Africa


Quick-Reaction Force Stands Up in East Africa

AF Times, June 23, 2013

The Army has stood up a quick-reaction force to respond to contingencies
such as the September attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

Post image for Quick-reaction force stands up in East Africa

The East Africa Response Force, made up mostly of soldiers from 2nd
Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, is based at Camp Lemonnier,

Officials declined to discuss specifics about the force, citing
operational security. But Air Force Lt. Col. Elizabeth Ortiz,
spokeswoman for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, said "recent
events and the growing complexity of the security environment have
demonstrated the need for [the Defense Department] to position
responsive forces globally with the capability to respond to potential
crises in the African region."

The East Africa Response Force "provides the commander of U.S. Africa
Command an additional capability to respond to crises and contingencies
throughout the area of responsibility," she wrote in an email to Army Times.

The Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killed the U.S.
ambassador and three other Americans, leading to outcry and hearings in
Congress, and questions about why the military did not or could not send
help quickly enough as the facility was being overrun.

The EARF is one of three such forces available to Gen. David Rodriguez,
commanding general of AFRICOM.

In an effort to improve AFRICOM's theater response capabilities, the
command has units that are ready to deploy in emergencies, said Tom
Saunders, a spokesman for AFRICOM.

This includes the commander's in-extremis force, which was stood up in

The force is based out of Fort Carson, Colo., and it rotates forces so
it has elements that are constantly forward deployed, he said. Saunders
said he could not provide more details.

In addition to the CIF, AFRICOM now also has two regionally focused
response forces: the EARF and a 500-strong Special-Purpose Marine
Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response unit that's tailored for response
in northwest Africa, Saunders said.

The Marine task force, which was formed in May, is temporarily based at
Moron Air Base, Spain.

The EARF is designed to respond rapidly within East Africa, which
includes Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia,
Tanzania and Uganda, Ortiz said.

If needed, the force can be sent wherever the commander deems necessary
across Africa, she said.

The EARF's "forward positioning" makes it more regionally responsive
than a force that's based in the U.S. or Europe, Ortiz said.

While on Camp Lemonnier, the EARF is under the operational control of
AFRICOM, which has delegated it to the commander of CJTF-Horn of Africa,
led by Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell.

The EARF is composed mostly of soldiers from 2nd BCT, 1st Infantry
Division, but the force also has Navy and Air Force personnel, Ortiz said.

Soldiers from 2nd BCT's 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, began
deploying to Djibouti in April, Army officials have said.

The EARF is in place to conduct operational area security and engage in
"limited interventions as directed," Brig. Gen. Kimberly Field, deputy
director of strategy, plans and policy in the Army G-3 (operations),
said during a press briefing May 30.

This includes non-combatant evacuation operations and personnel
recovery-related force protection tasks, she said.

"Soldiers have been on the ground in Djibouti to support this mission
since April and have the capabilities they need to conduct it," she
said. "The company is linked to dedicated lift, has been certified for
the mission, and rotates its platoons to meet a tough recall standard.
The EARF is postured to respond to protect U.S. interests in East Africa."

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