CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti -- Air Force and Navy personnel at Camp Lemonnier integrated their security forces into one cohesive unit July 1.
The overall purpose of this integration was to enhance security efforts on camp. Before the integration, the two branches had separate areas of security responsibility, which presented a few challenges.
Col. Dean Lee, 449th Air Expeditionary Group commander, mentioned lack of communication and coordination between security elements and overlapping zones of responsibility as some of the issues present before the integration. Combining security efforts was proposed to help reduce or eliminate these challenges.
"What we found is that we have all brought in different security with different capabilities, and we saw an opportunity for us to combine some of our efforts and improve our overall capabilities by combining our forces," said Lee.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Jay Denzin, master-at-arms, said bringing the branches together helps increase efficiency in the way security operates here.
"The camp is growing in leaps and bounds, and we basically needed to bring everybody together under one chain of command so we do business more effectively force-protection-wise," said Denzin.
Lee and Navy Capt. Kevin Bertelsen, Camp Lemonnier commanding officer, met earlier this summer with security leaders on camp to review and discuss the force-protection situation here at the time. Both agreed combining the branches' security forces would be in the best interest for enhancing camp security.
"We decided it would be logical to take everybody who is either in a force protection or a security personnel role and create an integrated force - in other words, one force that reacts to many different situations," said Bertelsen. "So this effort effectively takes all force-protection security personnel and cross trains them to be able to work in each other's enterprise."
Under the new integration, Air Force, Navy and Army security personnel train together and serve side-by-side on various details, such as guarding the flightline and camp entry control points, providing internal security, conducting camp patrols and performing law enforcement tasks.
Army personnel worked alongside the Navy in some of these capacities previously, but this new setup provides the three branches the opportunity to combine their skill sets, learn from one another and become a little more familiar with each other.
"It's a good experience, making new friends and meeting and working with new people," said U.S. Army Spc. Sheila Aguerro, 368th Military Police, Detachment 3 member. "This will be very helpful in the future for other deployments."
To highlight the joint aspect of this integration, Senior Airman Adam Harry, 726th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron member, has been working on sketching a logo for the combined security forces elements serving here. He said the intent is to use the logo as a template for a new patch to be worn by future joint security personnel serving at Camp Lemonnier.
"It's nice to be able to work with other branches on a different base... and to learn [new standard operating procedures] and broaden your own horizons," said Harry.
Lee stressed the importance of integrated security personnel working together to help accomplish the mission in the Horn of Africa.
"The biggest benefit [of this integration] is really to the mission," said Lee. "It enables us to accomplish our mission more effectively and efficiently."
The mission of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, one of the U.S. Africa Command components stationed at Camp Lemonnier, is to conduct operations in the combined joint operations area to enhance partner nation capacity, promote regional stability, dissuade conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests.