By Sgt. Vincent FuscoFebruary 5, 2009
A delegation of four senior Kenyan military officers visited West Point Jan. 26 to learn about the academy's military, educational and physical curricula as part of an officer professional development plan.
The delegation received command, academic, military instruction and professional military ethic briefs and also took a historical tour of West Point and joined the Corps of Cadets for lunch at the Cadet Mess Hall.
"I've read a little bit about West Point," Brig. Gen. Leonard Ngondi, chief instructor and deputy commandant of the Defence Staff College of Kenya in Nairobi, said during his first visit to America. "Now we see why the American forces are a superpower. We can see the seriousness of the government with regard to building leadership and character."
According to Ngondi, the main benefit of their visit is to improve their military college's cadet training curriculum in the areas of academics and character-building in particular.
"We have a lot to learn from West Point," Ngondi said. "I think (building character) is a lesson that cuts across not only cadets, but the entire armed forces."
Brigadier Gen. Arthur Owuor, college secretary, National Defence College in Nairobi, was impressed with amount of history preserved at West Point, as well as the scientific approach to the physical development program apparent in the department's structure and personnel.
"If we could adopt a similar approach, who knows where we'll be," Owour said.
In addition, the delegation met two Kenyan cadets currently attending West Point: Yearling Duncan Makau, Company D-2, who will enter the Kenyan Army; and Cow Robert Tonio, Company C-2, an exchange cadet from the U.S. Air Force Academy who will enter the Kenyan Air Force.
"I was pleasantly surprised to meet two young Kenyans who enrolled on their own," Owuor. "It's a challenge to see how we can harness these two into our military and how we can send more."
As of Oct. 1, U.S. Africa Command became a fully unified combatant command responsible for all U.S. military operations in 53 African nations, Carol Miller, deputy chief of the International Affairs office at West Point, said.
Following that establishment, International Affairs is preparing to facilitate further visits to West Point. A delegation from Rwanda is expected to conduct a similar mission in the near future.
"I anticipate that we're going to be seeing increased visits by African nations," Miller said.
The International Affairs office plans, coordinates, executes and provides U.S. Military Academy headquarters oversight to selected staff, faculty and cadet programs.
These programs include international exchanges, visits, staff deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and travel and security cooperation activities outside the continental United States.
Last year, West Point hosted 96 international military visits.