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World Affairs

Florida Guard Headed For Horn Of Africa

U.S. and French troops on patrol together in Djibouti.
U.S. and French troops on patrol together in Djibouti.
U.S. and French troops on patrol together in Djibouti.
Credit U.S. Marine Corporal Adam C. Schnell
U.S. and French troops on patrol together in Djibouti.

More than 600 Florida guardsmen are on their way to the horn of Africa.  They’ll participate in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Monday morning Florida Governor Rick Scott was on hand in Orlando to see off the first wave of Florida guardsmen.  They’ll stop off first at Fort Bliss in Texas for additional training and then they’ll deploy to the Horn of Africa.  Staff Sergeant Robert Ponder is already in Texas.

“We’ve got roughly around 600 soldiers deploying for this mission,” Ponder says, “most of which are from around central and southern Florida.”

Ponder says most of the regiment will focus on security operations.  But with so many people coming along there are all sorts of specialties represented.

“We’ve got a wide array of soldiers going with us,” Ponder says.  “I mean we have our own medic, chaplain, supply personnel, I mean you name it we’ll have it there.”

For instance, Ponder works in public affairs—his mission?  He says he’ll be kind of like the regiment’s staff photographer or photojournalist, documenting the operation’s progress.  They’ll be a part of Operation Enduring Freedom—the military’s official title for the war on terror.  In their region, the operation focuses on blocking the local efforts of groups like Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda as well as anti-piracy operations.

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