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Home : News
NEWS | Nov. 16, 2022

Illinois Guard Hands off Africa Mission to Wisconsin Guard

By Staff Sgt. Thomas Johns, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – The Illinois Army National Guard’s 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade transferred responsibility for the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa headquarters staff mission to the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 157th MEB Nov. 5.

The MEB groups various dispersed functions to provide critical multifunctional support for a force commander. The MEB allows CJTF-HOA to ensure strategic partnerships with Djibouti and other partner nations, respond to crises, and enhance regional stability and peace by acting as a headquarters support unit.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley, commanding general of CJTF-HOA, presided over the transfer of responsibility ceremony.

“404th, I wish you the very best in your next chapter and thank you for your service to our republic,” Shawley said. “157th warriors, I look forward to serving with you in the days to come.”

Shawley recognized the work the 404th MEB accomplished during its nine-month deployment.

“We provide crisis response, we strengthen American influence and access, we counter malign activities to weaken the U.N. Charter, and we support our African partners,” Shawley said. “You decisively helped us do this. You worked tirelessly on a continent that lies at a global crossroads with unique opportunities and challenges.”

This was the 404th MEB’s first deployment as a unified brigade and the third MEB at Camp Lemonnier supporting the CJTF-HOA mission. The 404th MEB’s leaders highlighted their pride in the unit.

“The way the 404th MEB integrated into CJTF-HOA and formed, planned and executed was simply humbling to be a part of,” said U.S. Army Col. Justin Towell, 404th MEB commander. “Each and every one of you should be proud of your efforts and devotion to keeping the best interest of the United States.”

The 157th MEB is the first Army National Guard brigade-level unit from Wisconsin to deploy to Africa.

“We have trained hard, validated through a methodical program of both individual and collective training,” said U.S. Army Col. Eric Leckel, commander of the 157th MEB and the incoming CJTF-HOA chief of staff. “I am honored to be a part of the CJTF-HOA mission and ready to place the (U.S. Africa Command) patch on my left shoulder and get to work.”