An admiral currently serving in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations has been nominated to become the next commander of the U.S.-led counter-terrorism mission in the Horn of Africa.

Rear Adm. (lower half) James M. Hart has been selected as commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, the Pentagon announced Friday. Hart is the director of Total Force Programming and Manpower Management Division in Washington, D.C.

The task force is made up of about 1,500 servicemembers and civilians, and it has a stated mission of battling “conditions that give rise to terrorism” and performing humanitarian missions in the region.

Task Force officials could not say Friday when the change of command would take place, or where the current commander — Rear Adm. (upper half) Richard M. Hunt — was heading next.

Hart is a native New Yorker who was commissioned through the Aviation Officer Candidate program in 1976, according to his Navy biography.

His previous tours include Air Anti-Submarine Squadron Two Eight (VS-28); Air Anti-Submarine Squadron Two Four (VS-24); Carrier Group Eight; and Commander, Strike Fighter Wings, Atlantic. He holds a bachelor of science degree in aeronautics administration from Middle Tennessee State University and a master of arts degree in foreign affairs from the Naval War College.

Hart will oversee a period of planned expansion at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti. The camp is headquarters for the task force and is scheduled to grow from about 88 acres to nearly 500, officials said in June. A new five-year lease was signed with the Djiboutian government, but U.S. officials would not disclose the cost of the lease.

The expansion of the base will improve security standoff distances and eventually allow all permanent personnel to live in containerized housing, officials said.

While several officers interviewed at Camp Lemonier in recent months have said an expanded number of troops is possible, U.S. officials would not say whether the expansion was directly related to any such plans.

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