USARAF trains 4,000 troops in Chad, Guinea, Malawi
June 6, 2014
With support from regionally aligned forces from 2nd Brigade 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., U.S. Army Africa trained more than 4,000 troops in Chad, Guinea, and Malawi in March.
This USARAF training continues to provide different African nations with help in securing their own borders, thereby helping them secure the region, and protecting U.S. interests.
"Second Bde., 1st Inf. Div. did an incredible amount of work in their preparation and training," said Maj. Lee Torres from USARAF SCD. "They lived in austere environments and worked with our African Partners to improve the level of training and preparation for a UN deployment. They leveraged their experiences and improved bi-lateral relationships with their interaction with the host nations."
Sgt. Major John Dudas from USARAF Operations and Plans concurred.
"The junior noncommissioned officers and Soldiers assigned to the RAF should be recognized for their work during these missions," Dudas said. "They are the ones who executed the plans and should be given the proper credit. Once they empowered to do the mission, they were confident and competent in their duties."
USARAF's mission of protecting and defending national security interests is accomplished by strengthening African land forces. USARAF leveraged relationships with partner nations like the United Kingdom to provide a multi-national approach to training. USARAF partnered with the British Peace Support Training Team in South Africa to train and mentor the Malawi Infantry Battalion.
"By helping Africans help themselves, it means that we don't have to get involved ourselves. If Africans are solving African problems, then the U.S. government doesn't have to use the U.S. Army to solve African problems," said Maj. Albert Conley III, USARAF's Counter Terrorism Desk Officer for International Military Engagements. "By having a conglomerate of nations in the African Union going into [a particular country] to help fix that nation's problems, American servicemen won't have to go into 'that' country to help fix that problem," he said.
Training these troops in Chad, Guinea and Malawi is an example of the impact USARAF's training is making on the continent to prevent atrocities and provide a stabilizing influence.
"Patrolling, fixed-site defense, and live fire training were central tasks presented to all three countries," Dudas said. "However, in Malawi, it was one third U.S. and two-thirds British Army who provided the training. We provided the live-fire training and they provided the rest."
The goal of the recent training of 4,000 troops in Chad, Guinea and Malawi was to assist African Partners in their preparation for United Nations Peace Keeping Operations for which their respective governments have accepted from the United Nations.
"USARAF remains flexible and prepared to assist our African Partners when their respective governments request military training and mentoring through the respective Senior Defense Official/Defense Attache` and U.S. Embassies. In all three countries, the respective governments requested U.S. military assistance as they prepared to assume the responsibility as a UN Troop Contributing Country."
The training conducted was linked to UN standards in Peace Keeping Operations utilizing the UN Infantry Battalion Manuals Volumes I and II as reference.
"Each country received training and instructions in Human Rights and Protection of Civilians based on UN vignettes," Torres said. "The U.S. training teams also utilized their experiences to conduct and incorporate the vignettes. Using the UN MONUSCO Specialized Training Materials (STM), U.S. military trainers developed training that incorporated the scenarios to be part of pre-deployment preparation with focus on relevant mission-specific challenges in the DRC."
But it's more than just training, Col. John "Boone" Ruffing, USARAF Security Cooperation director said, it's about developing an ethical-based mentality throughout the training -- and this is what USARAF focuses on as it works with its partners.
"From battalion commander on down, we try to provide mentors to work, shape, mold and coach these young minds. We want to train a battalion that is more than just 'a battalion;' showing them it's more than the flag on their shoulder, it's about a greater need," Ruffing said.
Ruffing said expertise in understanding the environment in Africa is very limited.
"When I came in the Army in the 80s, a lot of people knew about Latin America. We spent the 70s and 80s in Latin America. Now since the 90s, we have a lot of people who know about the Middle East, and have operated in the Middle East," Ruffing said. "So, now we are developing an expertise about the continent of Africa using the Regionally Aligned Forces concept and learning the culture, the language, how to operate in the various environments, and the regional orientation. We have a new generation of Soldiers who are learning a lot about Africa -- appreciating and wanting to be involved in Africa is something we haven't had in a long time," he said.
The U.S. Army is a learning organization that is ever changing, according to Ruffing.
"After 12 years of war, we were used to having a fairly large, sustained logistics trail to sustain us wherever we were -- we don't have any of that in Africa," Ruffing said. "So the challenge is going back to the way we used to be in the Army, and that is to be expeditionary, to live in austere environments, to rely on partners for sustainment. Everything we do on the continent, we want to do it in good faith and in a transparent way not only for our government, but for our African partner nations too.