Working for Water: Humanitarian need sparks Soldiers' cool solution during hot situation
October 26, 2009
KITGUM, Uganda - Teaming up to overcome a humanitarian crisis is one of the goals of the partnership nations for Natural Fire 10. One necessity for any military exercise is water.
Before the exercise kicked off, U.S. military and East African Community partner nations worked together to ensure hundreds of soldiers staged in northern Uganda had a supply of clean water.
When water supply issues suddenly hampered several of the East African Community military camps, sergeants major from both U.S. and African contingents swung into action to do what senior non-commissioned officers do best - take care of troops. While U.S. forces are able to produce potable water, their transportation capability was somewhat limited. In stepped the Kenyans, who had two water tankers ready to go - and were among those in need of fresh water.
"It was quickly identified, and we all worked together to solve the problem by sharing resources and equipment," said Army Capt. Christopher May, a logistical operations officer from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Special Troops Battalion.
First, both the U.S. and Kenyan contingents inspected each other's equipment and worked to understand each other's capabilities.
"In order to maintain clean water, its transportation has to be inspected and certified it won't contaminate the water," said Maj. Ken Spicer, Environmental Science Officer for the Combined Joint Task Force Lion, who inspected and certified the tankers as safe to carry drinking water. "I've inspected tankers like that many times in Iraq and it by far meets the standard."
Then, Kenyan Warrant Officer 2 Ibrahim Robow and Warrant Officer 2 Francis Lumbasho toured the water purification site. Staff Sgt. McDuffie, 240th Quartermaster Company, explained the processes of a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit. With both sides satisfied they could collaborate to deliver quality water to the troops, they loaded up the tanker with purified, drinkable water and drove it back to the camps.
Water challenges overcome, the African partner nations are focused on Natural Fire 10 - a routine, scheduled training exercise that offers an opportunity for East African Community Partner Nations and the US military to collaborate on a humanitarian assistance mission.
Working together, all parties learn from each other to increase regional capabilities to respond to complex humanitarian emergencies. The combined effort to solve the water problem has set the stage for a successful exercise and proving cooperation leads to coordination and ultimately collaboration.