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Notes From The Pentagon

Marine Maj. Gen. John Sattler, the Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa spoke via telephone to reporters at the Pentagon Friday, Jan. 10 about efforts in the war on terrorism, and about conditions for troops stationed in Africa.

The Horn of Africa, consisting of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen, has been identified as a possible location for terrorist training and weapons trafficking.

Sattler, speaking from aboard the U.S.S. Mt. Whitney, a command-and-control ship stationed off the coast of Djibouti, said efforts are underway to process intelligence information regarding terrorist movement in the region.

"We've had quite a bit of information that has come in," he said. He declined to comment on whether action had been taken yet, but added, "I'm very comfortable at this time that we have forces… that give us the ability to respond rapidly and quickly to actionable intelligence."

The CJTF has been in the Horn of African region for about a month, with 400 troops aboard the Mt. Whitney and another 900 at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, where civilians and troops are staying in tents under heavy anti-terrorist security. Sattler called the facilities "very, very austere but very, very safe."

Efforts are underway to build trust with governments in the region, to ensure the military will be able to strike quickly in any country in the region where terrorists are identified. Military officials have visited all six Horn of Africa nations and have met with heads of state in all but Kenya and Somalia. Still, Sattler said he "will never be totally comfortable" with the relationship between the CJTF and governments in the region.