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Highlights

Originally established in 2002 to fight terrorism, the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), based at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, is the military's main operational presence in Africa. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), created in 2007 to focus on stability in Africa, has been assessing existing activities--as well as CJTF-HOA--against its mission of sustained security engagement in Africa. This report discusses: (1) AFRICOM's decisions on CJTF-HOA's future and whether CJTF-HOA's activities align with the command's mission, and (2) benefits of the task force and challenges it faces. For its review, GAO analyzed AFRICOM and CJTF-HOA guidance, conducted interviews at the command's and task force's headquarters, and obtained perspectives from U.S. embassies in the region.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. First, to help ensure that personnel and resources are applied most effectively to enhance U.S. military efforts in Africa, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Africa Command, to complete its evaluation of CJTF-HOA, determining whether the task force should be retained, and if so, whether changes are needed to its mission, structure, and resources to best support the command's mission.
Closed - Implemented
According to AFRICOM officials, CJTF-HOA continues to remain important as DOD's only forward deployed headquarters on the continent of Africa. CJTF-HOA was approved for six new or expanding mission sets and the Joint Manpower Validation Board has assigned 215 positions to the task force. AFRICOM officials stated that CJTF-HOA remains strategically postured to stabilize the region and enable Africa partners while supporting U.S. national security priorities.
Department of Defense 2. If DOD determines that sustaining CJTF-HOA is consistent with its long-term goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Africa Command to conduct long-term assessments of CJTF-HOA activities to determine whether the activities are having their intended impact and support AFRICOM's mission.
Closed - Not Implemented
AFRICOM did not provide information as to whether it has conducted long-term assessments of CJTF-HOA activities, although the command did initiate some steps. AFRICOM said it had established a Campaign Assessments Process that encompasses all operations, exercises, and security cooperation activities and measured progress against theater level end states. AFRICOM also showed it had begun conducting baseline perception research for target populations in at least one country of CJTF-HOA's area of responsibility against which progress in changing perceptions/attitudes can be measured in future reviews. Additionally, AFRICOM stated that in conjunction with the Joint Staff and CJTF-HOA, AFRICOM is reviewing missions and the application of personnel and resources in support of CJTF-HOA. However, AFRICOM did not state whether that review was complete or provide any documentation of the review process.
Department of Defense 3. If DOD determines that sustaining CJTF-HOA is consistent with its long-term goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Africa Command to identify the projected costs for the task force to conduct its assigned mission and, in concert with DOD or the Navy, develop a realistic funding plan for the task force's sustainability.
Closed - Implemented
This recommendation was partially implemented. CJTF-HOA coordinated with Camp Lemonnier and service maneuver units to obtain funding figures. The task force identified funding sources including operations and maintenance, humanitarian civic assistance, official representation funds, and humanitarian assistance funds provided by AFRICOM. However, maneuver units were unable to provide funding amounts for the operations and maintenance funds for the Army, Air Force, and Marine units.
Department of Defense 4. If DOD determines that sustaining CJTF-HOA is consistent with its long-term goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Africa Command to take actions to ensure that CJTF-HOA budget personnel have the expertise and knowledge necessary to make timely and accurate funding decisions for activities. These actions could include some combination of training, staffing changes, and/or guidance.
Closed - Implemented
Since our report was issued, the Office of the Secretary of Defense- Policy created the Partnership Security Toolkit, an online database compiling all the funding authorities DOD may use to conduct its humanitarian assistance activities. AFRICOM said it is actively using the toolkit and provides updated guidance to OSD-P to incorporate into the site. The Partnership Security Toolkit, and AFRICOM's use of it, provides comprehensive guidance on applying funding to activities and meets the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Defense 5. If DOD determines that sustaining CJTF-HOA is consistent with its long-term goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Africa Command to develop comprehensive training guidance or a program that augments assigned personnel's understanding of African cultural awareness and working with interagency partners. The guidance or program should be mandatory and mechanisms should be developed to ensure compliance for the best chances of institutionalizing knowledge among CJTF-HOA personnel, promote continuity of efforts, and sustain progress as personnel rotate frequently into and out of Camp Lemonnier.
Closed - Implemented
This recommendation was partially implemented; CJTF-HOA has developed a program to augment assigned personnel's understanding of African cultural awareness, but AFRICOM has not provided documentation to show that CJTF-HOA developed a program to improve assigned personnel's understanding of working with interagency partners. DOD's Horn of Africa Task Force has taken steps to enhance cultural awareness. AFRICOM has employed socio-cultural research and advisory teams that have presented cultural orientations for Africa, Djibouti, and the greater Horn of Africa area of responsibility to CJTF-HOA staff. Consistent with our recommendation, the training and evaluations by the sociocultural research and advisory teams are a positive step toward increasing CJTF-HOA understanding of African cultural issues and thus addressing a challenge that has hindered the task force's effectiveness in carrying out activities. However, AFRICOM has not yet taken action on developing a program that augments assigned personnel's understanding of working with interagency partners.

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