The Maryland National Guard’s 110th Information Operations Battalion deployed its ninth team to the Horn of Africa, this past September.
HOA 9 replaces the last team, also comprised of 110th Information Operations soldiers, led by Maj. John Henderson. The official transfer of authority took place at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Sept. 16.
For the next nine months, HOA 9 will integrate and synchronize various information-related capabilities for Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), functioning as information operations planners.
Each team member brings unique skills and experience in specialties such as planning for electronic warfare, cyber, operational security, and others, with the goal of gaining and maintaining the advantage in a complex informational environment.
While deployed, Maj. John Rodriguez, the HOA 9 team leader, will lead the information operations directorate, also known as the J39. As the director of information operations, he will oversee the entire integration of conventional non-kinetic fires into the more traditional operations.
“Each team member has a specific role, but the overall combined effort will be towards supporting the information operations for the CJTF,” said Rodriguez.
“It is critical for the Army to bring this unique expertise, the functional area 30, to the Joint Task Force in Djibouti,” said Lt. Col. Kristine Henry, the 110th IO Battalion Commander. “In today’s fight, where information warfare dominates, we have seen an increased demand from combatant commands for these specialized integrators.”
To prepare for this deployment, the HOA 9 team underwent a rigorous training regimen, increasing each team member’s knowledge of how the different information-related capabilities contribute to the fight.
“Our training focused on how to integrate and coordinate various aspects of these capabilities and how they fit into the IO planning and coordination efforts,” said Rodriguez.
Part of the training included completion of the 1st IO Command Information Operations Capabilities Application and Planning course and the Joint Information Operations Planners’ Course at the Joint Staff College in Norfolk, Va.
“Through IO, we can influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp the decision-making abilities of our adversaries and potential adversaries in the region,” said Rodriguez.
CJTF-HOA conducts security force assistance and military engagements. It also provides force protection and military support to regional counter-violent extremist organizations.
The Joint Task Force works with U.S. and international partners in East Africa to support aligned regional efforts, ensure regional access and freedom of movement and protect U.S. interests in the region.
In this role, the Joint Task Force helps fight against violent extremist organizations in the region, such as al-Shabaab and ISIS in Somalia. It leverages U.S. diplomatic, informational, military and economic power to support our international partners throughout East Africa and help build their capabilities and capacities to defend themselves and shape their future.
The 110 IO Battalion is commanded by Lt. Col. Kristine Henry and is based at the Annapolis Readiness Center in Annapolis, Maryland. The unit’s mission is to conduct tactical through strategic level Information Operations in support of global military operations by training and deploying culturally aware and regionally focused IO teams to defeat adversary information operations and gain information superiority in the information environment. The unit is also prepared to provide support to state and local authorities during governor-declared state emergencies.
In addition to its missions in support of CJTF-HOA, the 110th IO Battalion has also deployed teams to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and is planning to support various other IO missions around the world in the coming months.