Future U.S., Tanzanian military officers find common ground
July 29, 2011
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - Cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis visited the Tanzanian People’s Defense Force (TPDF) Naval Command Training Center in Dar Es Salaam, for training recently.
The students came at the invitation of the Tanzanian government to visit TPDF junior officers and exchange training philosophies, best practices on leadership styles and introduce the junior officers to one another to facilitate future working relationships.
Tanzanian Maj. Gen. S.S. Omar, Chief of the TPDF Navy, said he was thankful and glad the U.S. students took time to visit his training center.
“Training with the U.S. Navy has been very fruitful,” Omar said. “This visit brings out good exchanges between the Army and Navy. It is a win-win.”
During the course of three days, beginning June 15, the cadets and midshipmen interacted with the Tanzanian Navy second lieutenants on how their respective military academies train and select future leaders as well as the inter-connected roles their forces will play in the future.
Much of the interactions focused on counter-piracy and anti-terrorism objectives during multinational operations.
“Piracy is not a one-country challenge,” said TPDF Navy Capt. Patrick Sawala, assistant officer-in-charge of the TPDF Naval Command Training Center. “We have to work nationally and globally. Piracy is around because diplomacy with them is cut.”
Sawala stressed that piracy in Somali waters is a problem that will endanger safe shipping in the region.
“As a Navy, we need to make sure this piracy is eradicated so we can live harmoniously,” he said. “We must win this challenge and no single country can do this alone.”
A primary objective of the visit focused on where the U.S. and TPDF militaries could assimilate their training methods in order to work together as a future team.
“We are in a globalized world and everything is done jointly,” Sawala said. “We can join and learn how to do these tasks together for safety and security.”
U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Neha Athavale said the exchange was critical and would shape her global perspectives when she becomes a future leader and U.S. naval officer.
“The issue of piracy affects all areas of the world,” she said. “Having an alliance with a country that faces the same problem will allow us to better understand and communicate problems in the region.”
She noted the impossibility in having a successful military alliance with a foreign power unless one is acquainted with their culture. To thrive in a partnership, “hard” military power must coincide with “soft” diplomatic power during cultural exchanges.
“By using soft power to understand a people and their culture, you will gain a better understanding and appreciation of your partners,” Athavale said.
During the three-day discourse with the junior officers, both sides were given ample opportunities to talk amongst themselves.
“Everyone is talking,” Sawala said. “This is where trust is built. When you build this friendship and trust, we will be able to do things together. It will be for the betterment of this world.” Athavale said that she saw immense strength in the TPDF’s ability to make the U.S. students feel welcome.
“They communicated that they want to improve their naval capabilities and they are willing to talk to other countries to learn,” she said.
The TPDF Navy has recently partnered with the U.S. Naval War College for strategic planning exercises and the Combined Joint Task Force " Horn of Africa for defender boat exercises, Sawala said.
“We always do a lot of engagements with the U.S.,” Sawala said.
U.S. Military Academy Cadet 2nd Class Chad Drake, said the channels of communication between the two countries will only improve from this experience.
“We want the same things and I didn’t see anything different in how we conduct our militaries,” he said. “They were very interested in the training we put our future officers through and their methods are very similar.”
Sawala said he was impressed with professional conduct of the U.S. students.
“The cadets were very enthusiastic and very eager to learn,” he said. “They were expecting to hear something from us and they were very good at responding to questions as well from the Tanzanian side. They were ready to share their experiences on how we do business together.” Sawala said he was thankful the frank and open attitude of the U.S. students.
“Tanzania was very open on how we conduct our training and the U.S. was very open,” he said. “They asked so many questions on procedures and tactics that we can include it in our training. It was invaluable.”
On the third day, the cadets and midshipmen were each invited to plant a mango tree in the yard outside the commander’s office.
Omar said it represents a bond of friendship that will grow and be fruitful in the future for both countries.
“I hope you take away something big from this experience,” Omar said. “If you take something away from this, today was a success.”
The TPDF extended an open invitation to the U.S. for a visit next year.