Monday, February 11, 2008

Military News: Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)

This first article was written by Joel Langton from CentCom Public Affairs, and it is a very inspiring one at that. Just imagine, people who do not speak the same language, we have different cultures, is a window into the souls of men, women and children. Please read on:

CENTAF Band wins hearts, minds of Djiboutians through music.

by Joel Langton
CENTCOM Public Affairs

DJIBOUTI (Jan. 23, 2008) — The U.S. Central Command Air Forces rock band "Live Round" is falling in love with the country of Djibouti during their five-day tour of the African nation. "The people here are awesome," said Master Sgt. Jeremy Laukhuf, bass player. "What makes it so enjoyable to play for them is the appreciation they have for the music. Everyone wants to be part of the performance."

The band’s other eight members are echoing the same theme.

The band is a blend of members from the Air Force Academy Band at Colorado Springs, Colo. and the Band of Mid-America at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Three days into the five-day Djibouti tour, the band has played for nearly 2,000 people at a remote African village, two inner-city community development centers and the national police academy. They have four more shows on tap for the tour, including a performance on Djibouti’s national radio station.

Although many band members have shared how the tour has touched their lives, a community leader said the hour-long concert he viewed had a profound impact on his perspective of the American military.

"Djiboutians were very scared of the military," said Mr. Ali Robleh, local community center director. "We thought of them as just wanting to shoot people, but we see that is not the case. Once we came to know each other, we see it is good."

Senior Master Sgt. James Bristow, band concert director, said the people’s positive response to the band’s presence there was due to the power of music.

"The same way medical care, sports, water and infrastructure improvements, the band helps build trust through the emotional impact of music," said Sergeant Bristow.

Tech. Sgt. Henrique DeAlmeida, CENTAF Band, Drummer involves the local children while performing for the village of Chebellier, Djibouti, Africa on January 23, 2008. (U.S. Air Force Photo By: Staff Sgt. Christina M. Styer).

Source: CENTCOM.

This is a touching article which shares the differences between Afghanistan and Africa when it comes to diversity. Mostly Africa is a much more easier place to be. This article, written by Staff Sgt Jennifer Redente for CJTF-HOA on February 5, 2008, is refreshing. It will give you a peek into the true character of our men in the armed forces.

Servicemembers spend special time with orphans.

by Staff Sgt Jennifer Redente

DJIBOUTI, Horn of Africa (Feb. 5, 2008) — Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa is one of the forces supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, but the difference between the Airmen assigned to embedded training teams to teach Afghans how to defend their land is much more diverse than the Airmen supporting the mission in the eastern region of Africa.

Airmen, along with fellow servicemembers and other Coalition troops are winning hearts and minds through projects that include military-to-military training, civil military operations and senior leader engagements.

Personnel supporting the mission to protect coalition interests, promote regional stability, prevent conflict and protect coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism, also differ through a large number of community outreach and volunteer opportunities.

These opportunities include English discussion groups and visiting orphanages in Djibouti.

Three days a week, servicemembers are given the opportunity to assist French nuns at the Djibouti baby orphanage to help care for more than 60 babies and toddlers.

The visits to the orphanage are the highlight of the week for one communications and information officer who deployed in September from the Air Force Global Cyberspace Integration Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va., to Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

“For a period of time, I am allowed the luxury of forgetting about myself, about being deployed to Africa, about being 7,000 long miles away from my family, my home, my wife and my daughter,” said Air Force Maj. Lanny B. Greenbaum, CJTF-HOA information management officer. “In the simple act of feeding a bottle to a baby, my heart fills with love for the children and reminds me of my family waiting for me in America.”

The nuns who care for more than 60 children at the orphanage have volunteers feed the children during their visits, which can last up to three hours.

“We usually feed the boys and girls bottles of formula or soft, solid food,” said Major Greenbaum, a 36 year-old from Plain City, Ohio. “With the remaining time, we play with the children.”

With each volunteer, there is a special reason for donating their off-duty time. Some miss their children and are looking to connect in some little way, while others may have wives expecting and looking for a way to prepare for fatherhood. For Major Greenbaum, it’s not only a way to connect with his daughter, but it is also a way to give back after going through the adoption process.

“My wife, of 11 years, and I have a precious daughter who will turn three next month, while I am still deployed,” he said. “Together my wife and I had the joy of traveling to China to make her part of our family. She is an absolute joy, and even though I am not home with my daughter, going to the orphanage helps fill the void. Personally, the trip is the highlight of my week.

“It is a chance for me to give back to those truly in need, to impact the life of a child who doesn't have a mommy and daddy,” he said. “Our part, however limited, does make a difference.”

Going through the experience of adopting a child gave the major a unique perspective of orphanages and what is involved with caring for children who don’t have families of their own.

“The caretakers at my daughter's orphanage took exceptional care of her, and I see my efforts as a small way to make a difference for deserving children here in Djibouti,” said Major Greenbaum. “It gives the sisters a break and also brings a fresh face and another human touch into the children’s lives. For that short timeframe, the kids have someone to connect with, and it tugs at your heart when they latch on to you and don't want to let go. The hardest part is putting them down for the night and having to walk away.”

Major Greenbaum is one of many dedicated volunteers who are seen at the orphanage every week.

“I see the same dedicated Camp volunteers boarding the bus each week,” he said. “Some volunteers have been going to the baby orphanage the better part of their year tour.”

The major, who has served in the Air Force for 12 years, makes it a point to attend the orphanage at least once a week, but to assist in his absence, when the mission allows, the Information Management Office is represented with the attendance of other Airmen.

“Three other people from my section also go to the baby orphanage,” said Major Greenbaum. “We try to have someone represent our section each time a baby orphanage trip is offered.”

The Camp Lemonier Ministry Support Team coordinates the trips to the baby orphanage each week.

“The major introduced me to the orphanage visits,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Francisco J. Hernandez, IMO Data Systems noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “He is always busy during the week attending meetings, and dealing with management-level tasks, but he puts his busy schedule on pause when it is time to go to the orphanage. It is one day out of the week where the major's professional life stands still, so he can give his time to the kids. The orphanage workers jokingly treat him as the father to Bethlehem, a little girl that he practically pushes all the other volunteers aside for, so he can have her all to himself.”

A member of the camp’s ministry support team knows Major Greenbaum through his frequent visits to the orphanage.

“The major does very well with the children and seems to have a lot of fun with them,” said Navy Religious Programs Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary A. Wood, Camp Lemonier Ministry Support Team leading chaplain's assistant. “He shows a dedication that is mostly only seen by those who have a family. Sometimes the sadness of seeing those children is just too much for people, yet for the major, he simply shows the children there is someone that cares for them. I am both honored and grateful that I have had the privilege to have worked with so many volunteers like Major Greenbaum.”

While visiting the orphanage is a volunteer opportunity, it’s still helping to support in the CJTF-HOA mission.

“We are providing much needed assistance to the women who work at the orphanage and also providing attention and comfort to the children, which helps them to grow accustomed to new people, in turn, helping to make them more desirable to prospective adoptive parents,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Wood, a Cassville, Mo., native. “The orphanages along with the English discussion groups are the primary sources of our outreach to the community of Djibouti, where the majority of the population lives. We strive to win the hearts and minds of the young who will eventually grow to be the leaders of tomorrow. Through the actions of servicemembers like Major Greenbaum, we are striving to make a better and brighter future for the children of Djibouti. The country of Djibouti is growing so fast that these children can easily be forgotten, but our many caring and generous volunteers are ensuring that will never happen.”

The dedication of volunteers runs deeper than coordinated trips through the chapel.

“I personally have witnessed people going out on days the chapel does not have a trip planned just so they can help that much more,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Wood, who is deployed from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. “There are a lot of highly dedicated people on camp.”

Based on the services and types of deployments each servicemember is on, deployments can range from three-month to one-year tours. When it is time to redeploy, servicemembers like Major Greenbaum will be excited to return to their own families and children at the orphanage, like Bethlehem, will always have a special place in their hearts.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Francisco J. Hernandez, left, and Air Force Maj. Lanny B. Greenbaum enjoy playing with infants at an orphanage near Camp Lemonier, Djibouti. (U.S. Air Force photo).

Source: CENTCOM.

Now let's give it up for our fantastic women! Since I am a woman and love children, this one really touches my heart. It was written by Staff Sgt Jennifer Redente for CJTF-HOA on January 31, 2008.

Volunteers donate book bags, supplies to orphans.

by Staff Sgt Jennifer Redente

DJIBOUTI (Jan. 31, 2008) — Female service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa donated more than 50 book bags containing school supplies, flip flops, shampoo, soap and treats to girls at Center Aicha Bogoreh in Djibouti Jan. 27.

Volunteers from the English as a Second Language Team received the donations from fellow service members, family, friends and organizations including three chapters from the Federally Employed Women Organization, the Department of the Leadership, Ethics and Law, U.S. Naval Academy and Naval Legal Service Office Southeast.

Navy Senior Chief Legalman Alicia Barnes hands a book bag containing school supplies, flip flops, soap, shampoo and treats to a young girl at The Center for the Protection of Women and Children, the largest orphanage in Djibouti. (U.S. Navy photo)“The girls are eager to learn, but lack resources for language acquisition as we know it in the United States,” said Army 1st Lt. Jody L. Glover, CJTF-HOA Cryptologic Services Group officer in charge and Signals Intelligence liaison officer. “The writing supplies will enable them to practice dictation and repetition. The notebooks ensure continuity in their studies, so they can review their work over time. The fun treats, like markers, crayons and candy, surely make learning fun.”

The volunteers visit the orphanage twice a week to teach the girls, between 7 and 13 years old, English.

“We leave for the school in the evening after a full work day, and the volunteers are usually tired, but we are always so happy we went at the end because the girls make it so worth while,” said Navy Chief damage controlman Danielle L. Saunders, Camp Lemonier Operations emergency management officer.

By the time the team arrives to the orphanage, the girls are gathering outside the school house, and the volunteers can see the girls light up.

“The best thing about volunteering is getting to interact with the girls,” said Navy Lt. Hollis N. Simodynes, Camp Lemonier Staff Judge Advocate. “Our students are genuinely interested in learning English, and they are gifted with the talent to learn new languages easily. They were a bit shy at first, but they quickly became very friendly and spirited. In one of my classes, we discussed what the girls want to be when they grow up, and many of them said they wanted to be doctors.”

The enjoyment is a unanimous feeling felt by all the volunteers from Camp Lemonier supporting the CJTF-HOA mission to prevent conflict, promote regional stability, protect coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism.

“I really enjoy working with the girls,” said Navy Senior Chief Legalman Alicia Barnes, Camp SJA staff legalman. “Although they are less fortunate than some, their love for each other and their willingness to learn is overwhelming. They have taught me many things about themselves and their culture, which has enabled me to better understand them. I have grown close to all of them, and I will miss them when I leave.”

The center is the largest orphanage in Djibouti caring for more than 325 young women and children, ages 2-22.

Navy Senior Chief Legalman Alicia Barnes hands a book bag containing school supplies, flip flops, soap, shampoo and treats to a young girl at The Center for the Protection of Women and Children, the largest orphanage in Djibouti. (U.S. Navy photo).

Source: CENTCOM.

I must confess, I have a soft spot for babies, children, our fellas and gals, and the Horn of Africa. These are tremendous people. You may continue to follow the progress over there by going to the Horn of Africa's website. Thank you, and have a great day.

Update: Military News: Afghanistan.
Military News: Iraq. Digg! Digg!

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