Ugandan soldiers graduate from counter-terrorism course
June 21, 2009
ENTEBBE, Uganda -- Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, completed their sixth military-to-military training partnership in Uganda with the graduation of 134 Uganda People's Defense Force soldiers during a ceremony at Kasenyi training school on June 16, 2009.
Leaders from both CJTF-HOA and UPDF spoke during the ceremony and congratulating the soldiers on completing the course and challenging them to share what they learned with others.
"This training is an excellent example of how Uganda and the United States government work together to promote peace and stability," said U.S. Army Col. Matthew Grays, CJTF-HOA joint civil-military operations director. "Your actions today prove each of you believe in peace and security. I challenge the soldiers graduating today to build on what they have learned and, in turn, teach others in order to make this military training course a true success."
Twenty-seven CJTF-HOA servicemembers and UPDF soldiers teamed up as instructors and assistant instructors to teach the 15-week course. All the UPDF assistant instructors are students who participated in previous courses, such as last year's distinguished honor graduate UPDF Army Sgt. Lagu Joseph.
The 13-year Army veteran and signal troop commander was thrilled when his superiors asked him to be an assistant instructor.
"When they asked me to come back as an assistant instructor, I was honored," Lagu said. "This was my chance to share with my fellow UPDF soldiers what I had learned through my experiences. This course helped me by giving me knowledge, skills and all the techniques I need to defeat the enemy of terrorism or whoever comes against me."
Some of the classes taught during the course included individual movement techniques, troop landing procedures, land navigation, search techniques, first aid, identifying improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle search and entry control point procedures.
"It was a wonderful experience to mentor the UPDF students," said U.S. Army Capt. Faamai Taupau, Uganda Counter Terrorism Course training officer in charge and member of the 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment. "Their hunger for knowledge was endless and their ability to quickly motivate each other during physical training, practical exercises and exams, to name a few, propelled them to overcome obstacles and complete tasks successfully."
One of these obstacles included a vehicle accident as the group was returning from its final field training exercise. Several of the UPDF soldiers were injured, but Taupau said he was impressed by how the other soldiers reacted.
"When our vehicle stopped our immediate concern was for our 'brothers'," said Taupau. "We saw several of comrades in the street and our hearts dropped, but to see them even at that time, remain disciplined and care for each other brought us joy. As everything was happening around you, you guys controlled the situation and took care of one another."