CJTF-HOA, Rwandan Defense Force personnel exchange best practices
May 6, 2012
GAKO, Rwanda (April 30, 2012) -- Five personnel assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) exchanged best practices with soldiers from the Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) here April 2-14.
Rwandan military members from the 71st RDF Battalion took a five-week training course designed to ramp up their deployment and mission readiness capabilities.
The main purpose of the CJTF-HOA involvement was to observe and share advice and practices with Rwandan Defense Force military personnel supporting United Nations peacekeeping missions, said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael Zerniak, CJTF-HOA operations crisis planning officer.
While there, CJTF-HOA and Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program members worked alongside 71st RDF Battalion soldiers, providing guidance and hands-on experience during various classroom and practical exchanges, said Zerniak.
"The main purpose of my visit was to observe the battalion staff as they went through a command post exercise and a computer assisted exercise," said Zerniak. "What I observed was their planning, monitoring and execution of the different missions they were assigned for the exercises."
Some of the courses and exercises included battalion logistics in peacekeeping operations, weapons maintenance and enhanced marksmanship, negotiation skills, field medical training and combat lifesavers training.
"We shared the basics of wound care, pharmacology, initiating IVs and treating casualties under fire," said U.S. Army Spc. Andrew Webster, a medic with 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, Task Force Raptor. "We also did a field training exercise where we exchanged practices on treating specific wounds and moving casualties to a landing zone for medical evacuation."
The RDF training culminated on April 14 with a ceremonial graduation of the 71st RDF Battalion and a demonstration for senior RDF military leaders, said Zerniak. The demonstration simulated how the soldiers would react to various events that could occur while escorting a vehicle convoy, such as responding to enemy fire and airlifting wounded personnel.
Zerniak said he was encouraged by the overall exchange and was grateful to see how the Rwandan military and people wanted to take part in peacekeeping operations in Africa.
"The Rwandans do have goals and visions of where they want to go within their military," said Zerniak. "From a professional standpoint, it was interesting to see their development in their abilities and capabilities, which will hopefully open the door for future engagements with CJTF-HOA."