The USN Expands Facilities in Africa: Africom Builds Fusion Cells


2014-11-24 By Oscar Nkala

The US Naval Facilities Engineering Command has contracted B.L. Harbert International to build 65 new housing units worth $18 million at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

A notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website said the construction works are expected to be complete by May 2016.

“The proposed new construction will contain 65 units, each housing up to four persons, with a total capacity of 260 persons. The building and site design will be austere in design and comply with the most current Camp Lemonnier master plan and installation appearance plan.

“Work will be performed in Djibouti, Africa and is expected to be completed by May 2016. Fiscal 2014 military construction (Navy) contract funds in the amount of $18,387,380 are obligated on this award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year,” the notice reads.

The contract was awarded a few days after the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Europe, Africa and South-West Asia contracted KBR Services Inc of Texas to undertake renovations, repairs, maintenance, replacement, alterations and demolitions to buildings at Camp Lemonier. According to the FBO, works should be completed by September 2019.

“The work to be performed provides for renovations, repairs, maintenance, replacement, alterations, demolition, and NAVFAC Construction Category II, III and IV tasks for Department of Defense activities in the Djibouti, Africa, area.

”The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months with an expected completion date of September 2019. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance (Navy) contract funds in the amount of $50,000 are being obligated on this award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.”

The US Navy has been steadily expanding its facilities at Camp Lemonnier to house an increasing number of military personnel being deployed to Africa on active special forces duty and partner army training missions in Africa.

Apart from ongoing expansion works on Camp Lemonnier, the US Navy is quietly expanding its smaller naval base at Manda Bay in Kenya. It has also contracted for renovations and expansion of housing and military operational facilities on another naval base in the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

First Published by our partner defenceWeb on October 21, 2014

And the modernization of Camp Lemonnier is a key aspect of AFRICOM expanded presence in Africa.

Camp Lemonnier is run by CJTF-HOA (Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa) so the renovation is to benefit the CJTF.

In a defenceWeb piece published November 18, 2014, the role of “Fusion Cells” at Camp Lemonnier is highlighted:

Continuity in a command environment is vital to the success of the mission and/or the program an individual is responsible for Staff Sergeant Carlin Leslie of US Africa Command writes on the Command website.

Building an environment where that continuity, leadership and teamwork grows is the vision of the Fusion Action Cell (FAC) and the Threat Security Co-Operation Hive that went fully operational at Camp Lemonnier at the beginning of November.

Training at Camp Lemonnier. Credit: defenceWeb
Training at Camp Lemonnier. Credit: defenceWeb

The Hive is an integral part of the re-organisation of CJTF-HOA (Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa), building and joining together joint, inter-agency, inter-governmental and multi-national teammates from Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda, building leaders and giving them the opportunities to succeed.

“Building the relationships between our African team mates is a must to provide the best Combined Joint Task Force possible. The men and women who work day and night in the Fusion Action Cells are at the forefront of innovation in mission command, joining partner countries together for a greater good and I could not be prouder of their efforts and strides they have made,” said Major General Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., Commander CJTF-HOA.

According to him, the old regional engagement branch consisted of one single desk officer per country. The cells now consist of a country liaison officer and six other officers allowing greater continuity of information sharing.

Using this concept the FAC will no longer rely on only one person’s knowledge and will have resilience–a means of establishing a corporate memory and enable long-term planning.

With each FAC as a force multiplier of its own, the cells are joined in the Threat Security Co-Operation Hive, building on information sharing and using issues and threats from other countries to help plan for future events.

“Perhaps the most important part of the re-organisation is that officers from our African partner nations are now central in the cells and desk teams. Using the unclassified work environment, allowing the liaisons to contribute to everything we do here.” Colonel Timothy Connors, FAC/HIVE director, said.

While the FAC/HIVE mission command is real world and face-to-face, it is supported by the All Partners Access Network (APAN).

This web-based application is a collection of communities developed to foster information and knowledge sharing between the US Department of Defense and non-DOD entities that do not have access to traditional DOD networks.

APAN offers online collaboration tools that can be used alone or in conjunction with other tools to develop unique online community space.

“The FAC is a relationship and team building experience that promotes the fraternity of the profession of arms, while also bringing to life the global coalitional spirit in the fight against global terrorism. Then, using real-time multimedia opportunities offered by APAN is an excellent learning and professionally enriching experience,” said Lieutenant Colonel Okei Rukogota, Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces liaison officer.

According to Rukogota, the FAC has made the country liaison officers critical participants in the formulation, planning and execution of missions, engagements and tasks.

This enables timely and efficient planning of customized partnerships between countries.

The Hive is attached to the Civil Affairs Battalion allocated to CJTF-HOA, allowing it to act on information gleaned and assist their Eastern African teammates in the fight against violent extremist organizations.

The Hive provides a fresh perspective for regionally approached commands and has possible uses in other parts of the world.