Judge Advocates Lt. Col. Stephen Salerno and Lt. Col. Timothy Tuckey of U.S. Army Africa's Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA) recently returned from two weeks in Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively, where they conducted legal education courses for a program hosted by the Defense Institute for International Legal Studies.

Salerno is a civilian attorney adviser in Army Africa's OSJA, and a lieutenant colonel in the 91st Legal Support Office. Tuckey works in the international law section of Army Africa OSJA. The courses provided legal education and resources to military and related civilian personnel in two of Army Africa's partner nations.

When DIILS, a leading defense security cooperation resource for professional legal education, training, and rule of law programs, requested two experienced attorneys to travel to Africa for two weeks to teach law courses, U.S. Africa Command answered the call and U.S. Army Africa provided Salerno and Tuckey as the manpower.

Salerno's Chad DIILS class, which took place in the warm and slightly rainy capital city, N'Djamena, focused on mentoring forces to combat corruption. Salerno taught courses that specifically addressed corruption in post-conflict societies, procurement corruption, transparency and accountability.

Salerno's students consisted of approximately 90 high-level members of the Chadian military, law enforcement, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the media. With two Togolese interpreters at hand, Salerno communicated via simultaneous interpretation into French. Lectures were augmented by practical exercises of group problem solving. Students wore everything from vibrantly colored tribal dress to three-piece suits and artistically designed henna tattoos, Salerno said.

"In an animated discussion about the importance of transparency and accountability, one student replied that it is up to us, the people in this room, to effect change and fight corruption in Chad," said Salerno. "Seeing education evolve into empowerment is extremely rewarding."

Tuckey's program in the Democratic Republic of Congo focused on mentoring Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) forces to maintain good order and discipline through the development of a professional military. Class topics included command responsibility, the law of armed conflict, humanitarian law, sexual violence, ethics and corruption, he said.

Tuckey spent the first week training 39 officers of 1st Region FARDC staff in Bandundu, in a makeshift classroom crafted from a room inside a restaurant. and the second week working with 44 field-grade officers at the general headquarters of Ituri's Operational Zone in Bunia.

His interpreter spoke mostly French, but also incorporated Lingala, the universal language of the Congolese military, into the presentation, Tuckey said.

"Some of these students have been in the military for a long period of time and some are former rebels who have only recently been incorporated into the military force," he said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has had an ongoing internal armed conflict, Tuckey said.

"It is really a testament of their professionalism to see such a mixture of students sitting side-by-side in a classroom learning together," he said.

Page last updated Fri October 15th, 2010 at 03:30