cjtf hoa

A French air force Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma helicopter hovers over the Gulf of Tadjoura during a bilateral water operations exercise with pararescuemen from the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa July 24, 2017. The results of the exercise will aid in the development of standard operating procedures between CJTF-HOA and the French forces stationed in Djibouti for the U.S. and France’s rescue capabilities within the Horn of Africa region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Brown-out incoming.

U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit provide security as a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced), 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepares to land during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel training exercise at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The expeditionary unit was deployed with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group.

(DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Lonzo-Grei D. Thornton, U.S. Marine Corps, 6 JAN 2014.)

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Eco Dome brings villagers and service members together.

U.S. Navy Construction Battalion members Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Young and Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Barbour take measurements for window trim for the eco dome project Sept. 5, 2012 in Karabti San, Djibouti. 

A view from the inside of a nearly-completed eco dome Nov. 2, 2012 Karabti San, Djibouti. 

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Young, construction battalion member, discusses the finishing touches of the dome with Hamdou Ahmed, a local villager, and Ismael Abdoulrahman, the Djibouti Joint Civil Affairs Team interpreter Nov. 1, 2012, in Karabti San, Djibouti. As a result of the combined efforts of the villagers, Djiboutian army members and civil affairs team members, the 21-foot-tall eco dome is currently receiving its finishing touches and the villagers now have the skills to build these infrastructures on their own. The project is part of an ongoing effort between CJTF-HOA, villagers, non-government organizations and international organizations over the past several years to provide a community building for Karabti San, a remote village in the Tadjourah region of Djibouti.

The village of Karabti San sits at the base of the Djiboutian Mountains Nov. 2, 2012 Karabti San, Djibouti. 

(Photos by Tech Sergeant Joseph McKee and Staff Sergeant Veronica Mcmahon, 5 SEP 2012. Article by Staff Sergeant Veronica Mcmahon, 27 NOV 2012.)

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti — Roughly three years ago, a group of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa military members arrived at the small village of Karabti San several hours north of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, in the Tadjourah region to build an eco dome. 

After countless visits to the village by a series of CJTF-HOA civil affairs teams, the dome isn’t all that was built. Partnerships, friendships and a trust between cultures have emerged.

The villagers, Djiboutian army members and civil affairs team members are putting the finishing touches on the 21-foot-tall eco dome, which is a structure intended to become a multipurpose community center. Karabti San villagers have also acquired the skills to build these infrastructures on their own after years of working alongside U.S. and Djiboutian army service members. 

“The Americans were the first to come here to build infrastructure three years ago,” said Djibouti army 1st Sgt. Hanfare Aboubaker. “They have continued coming here to work and teach us skills. It has shown the brotherhood between us and them and it has shown we are one.”

The remote village of Karabti San is located in a valley where villagers live in huts and wake up with the sunrise to begin their day by fetching water with their goat herds and camels. 

According to U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Rolwes, Djibouti Joint Civil Affairs Team leader, the dome is the first and only permanent structure in the village.

“The dome is going to be used as a community center, school, clinic or a shelter,” said Rolwes. “It is somewhat of a fortress and can withstand very inclement weather and winds.”

The route to Karabti San passes through mountain sides and deserts. Yet when JCAT members reach their destination, they are greeted by nothing but smiles.

“It’s one of my favorite places to go in the country. I’ve stayed out there a few times and the people are outstanding,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Morgan, Djibouti JCAT team sergeant. “The villagers are part of the Afar tribe. Once accepted into their culture, they consider you family for life.” 

According to Aboubaker, when the Americans are absent the villagers ask constantly where they are. 

While some service members assist with building the dome, others interact with the children, teach school and provide medical checkups. At dusk, the JCAT members host a movie night by draping a sheet over their vehicle and playing an action movie on the projector - but not before dinner.

“Typically if they know we are coming they prepare us a traditional lunch or dinner of rice and goat and we eat with them,” said Morgan. “They show a lot of hospitality and have been very receptive to us.”

The JCATs have visited the village consistently for the past three years, each time bringing up equipment and supplies to construct the dome. The Djiboutians and Americans have shared enough best practices that the villagers have taken on the project as their own. 

“The Djiboutians said they know how to build now because of the help various civil affairs teams have given them,” Morgan said. “By doing this, we have been building partnerships and we are increasing trust between them and us.” 

The dome’s ribbon cutting is tentatively scheduled for later this year.