French and US soldiers conduct joint artillery live-fire exercise with CAESARs and mortars in Djibouti

U.S. Army National Guard soldiers assigned to Task Force Red Dragon, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), and members of the 5th RIAOM, French Forces in Djibouti (FFDJ), conducted a joint artillery live-fire operation in Djibouti, April 11, 2022.
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Live-fire with a French CAESAR self-propelled howitzer (Picture source: U.S. Army National Guard/Staff Sgt. Jeff Clements)

CJTF-HOA, operating from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, regularly trains with and works alongside allied and partner nations, coalition forces and interagency/intergovernmental organizations to achieve a unified effort in East Africa.

Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)

Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) is a joint task force of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). It originated under Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA) as part of the United States' response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The mission of the CJTF-HOA is to conduct operations in the Combined Joint Operations Area to enhance partner nation capacity, promote regional security and stability, dissuade conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests.

CJTF-HOA consists of about 2,000 servicemen and women from the United States military and allied countries. Currently, the task force has an assigned area of interest that includes Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Seychelles, and Kenya. Outside this Combined Joint Operating Area, the CJTF-HOA has operations in Mauritius, Comoros, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania.

CJTF-HOA operations are encompassed by what the U.S. military has termed the ‘indirect approach' with a focus on military-to-military engagements, civil-military operations, key leader engagements, and providing enabling support to partner nations. They provide short-term assistance by drilling wells for clean water, building functional schools, improving roadways and improving medical facilities. Long-term goals include working with partner nations to improve national and regional stability and security. Regional stability is increased through capacity-building operations such as civil affairs and military-to-military training; engineering and humanitarian support; medical, dental, and veterinarian civic action programs (MEDCAP, DENTCAP, VETCAP); security training for border and coastal areas; and counter-IED (C-IED) integration training. About 1,800 personnel from each branch of the U.S. military, civilian employees, and representatives from coalition and partner nations make up CJTF-HOA.

On October 1, 2008, responsibility for the task force was transferred from the United States Central Command to the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), as the latter assumed authority over the U.S. forces in the region.


French army’s 5th Overseas Interarmes Regiment (5ème Régiment InterArmes d'Outre-Mer, 5 RIAOM) is a regiment stationed in Djibouti (FFDj, Forces Françaises à Djibouti). It has been the Djibouti garrison since 1 November 1969. It is the last combined arms regiment in the French army comprising a mechanized infantry company, a light cavalry squadron, an artillery battery, and a command and support company.

Since 2016 and the last restructurings of the FFDj, the new format of the regiment is:
• The CCL, including the maintenance detachment;
• The 1st infantry company, on a short-term mission;
• The 3rd armored squadron on a short-term mission, equipped with AMX 10RCR;
• The 6th support company including artillery and engineers, on a short-term mission, equipped with CAESAR self-propelled howitzers, 120 mm mortars, and engineer VABs;
The Army's Light Aviation Detachment (DETALAT) remains stationed on the airbase.

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Live-fire with a 120mm mortar in Djibouti (Picture source: U.S. Army National Guard/Staff Sgt. Jeff Clements)