Wisconsin national guard during the October 2020 curfew in Wauwatosa. (Isiah Holmes)
The Wisconsin National Guard’s 157 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade has “assumed responsibility” of the headquarters staff for the Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Wisconsin’s Guard soldiers will be taking over from the Illinois National Guard’s 404 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, with the change of hands culminating in a ceremony at Camp Lemonnier in the African country of Djibouti.
Nicknamed “Iron Brigade,” the Wisconsin National Guard brigade began preparing for the deployment six months ago. The CJTF-HOA is the only permanent U.S. military installation on the African continent, according to a Department of Military Affairs press release. The National Guard soldiers will work with “Djiboutian counterparts and other partner nations for integrated security tactics, mobility and functional methods,” the release notes.
U.S. military presence has been steadily building in the region since the activation of AFRICOM in 2008. The Horn of Africa is a tension-filled region of the continent. The region is currently undergoing extreme drought with over 22 million people across Djubouti, Ethipoia, Kenya, and Somalia now facing severe hunger. Food scarcity has killed over 7 million livestock animals across the region. The ecological stress has also ramped up conflicts between armed groups. Somali military officials say 49 al Shabaab fighters were killed in one military operation. In Ethiopia, peace talks are underway between rebels and the government.
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