New water well sites are inspected.

By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente

Army Command Sgt. Maj. David Hudson recently traveled to Djibouti to learn more about the Horn of Africa (HOA) mission; visiting well drilling sites was one of the main objectives of the trip.

“As a person who testifies before Congress, I wanted to come and see how they were doing and if they were in need of any supplies or equipment,” says Hudson, who visited in mid-September. “I personally learned a lot,” he adds. “I didn’t know about the well drillers and what they bring to the HOA mission. The well drilling unit is doing a wonderful job.”

While the sergeant major has visited several camps in theatre, this was his first trip to Africa. “It was a neat opportunity to come and see what kind of impact guardsmen are making,” he says. “A lot of people don’t know about Djibouti, where it is or what we are doing here.”

Hudson met with the 1132nd Well Drilling Detachment of the North Carolina Army National Guard, and traveled to Assamo to view three of the five wells the service members had completed.

“Well drilling is an important contribution here because it helps prevent illness,” says Army Staff Sgt. William Brown, 1132nd Well Drilling Detachment lead driller and acting first sergeant. The difference between the hand-dug wells the Djiboutians use and the wells the guardsmen install is that the well drillers encase the wells. Well drillers also test the water using a hydrologist water test kit each time they return to the site. While there is no regulation or other requirement for this process, the guardsmen go an extra step further to make sure the process still is intact. “We do it as a courtesy, because we care about what we’ve done,” says Brown. “We want to make sure we have left a positive impression on the people.”

At any given time, there can be 70,000 to 90,000 Guardsmen deployed to 44 countries around the world. About 200 are in the Horn of Africa. The well drillers are part of the CJTF-HOA mission, serving with more than 1,800 coalition and U.S. service members who are part of the operational effort to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interest in order to prevail against extremism.