DAKAR, Senegal -- Soldiers of the Senegalese 1st Paratrooper Battalion and the U.S. 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, completed the final event of Africa Readiness Training 16 in Thiès, Senegal on July 25 and 26.
The first in a series of planned annual U.S. Army Africa exercises, Africa Readiness Training brought together U.S. Army Soldiers from U.S. Africa Command's regionally aligned force with African partners to increase readiness through tough and realistic training, including combined live fire events, counter-IED detection and combat casualty care.
"The primary objective is to ensure that our general purpose forces for the U.S. Army are ready to do operations in Africa," said U.S. Army Col. Scott Morgan, the senior defense official and defense attaché in Senegal. "It's about readiness, and it's about being able to deploy into austere environments and work with partners here in the African environment, like the Senegalese Armed Forces."
Each day, platoons from both battalions formed to create a company-size element and successfully completed a combined arms live fire exercise.
"We went through squad live fire, platoon situational training, platoon live fire and then finished off with a company live fire to the same standard we would've done at Fort Stewart, with the exception of night fire," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Theodore Leonard, commander of 1-30th Infantry.
"We learned a lot from our partners," Leonard added. "It was important we established a good relationship. We weren't really training them, we were training together."
The combined arms live fire exercise was also the first time Senegalese and U.S. elements maneuvered together under the same company commander during Africa Readiness Training 16.
"Seeing how the two forces were doing command and control with the Senegalese platoons moving alongside the American company was just fantastic," Morgan said.
"I was very pleased (with) how my platoons operated amongst one another, and I was very pleased with assuming one of the Senegalese platoons into my company and having them work alongside me," said U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Murphree, commander of Bravo Company, 1-30th Infantry, who led three combined platoons across the training area on the first day of the live fire exercise.
"It really seemed like a seamless transition," Murphree added. "I know that now if we have a Senegalese platoon, we'd be able to accomplish the mission, and there won't be any problems with communication."
The U.S. Soldiers from each unit found that there were similarities in overall tactics, but training side-by-side with Senegalese Soldiers gave leaders and troops the experience they carry forward should they ever operate with the nation in combat.
"The interaction enriches both sides, the Americans and the Senegalese," said Senegalese Brig. Gen. François Ndaiye, chief of staff for the Senegalese Army.
"(The 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers) came all the way from Georgia. The weather is completely different, the environment is different, even the way of doing business is completely different. So, it's mutual enrichment, and this is what we were looking for."
In addition to moving his troops across unfamiliar terrain and learning to coordinate with a foreign force, Murphree validated his company's readiness to deploy by meeting most of the same requirements his organization would need to meet when moving into an actual combat environment.
"Though deployment readiness can be challenging, just be sure that you get your guys ready as far as paper work is concerned: passports, shot records, certain medication, making them ready to be deployable," Murphree said.
"Make sure that you have a plan in place, just in case you don't get certain pieces of equipment, so you can adjust and still carry out the operation," he added. "There's always a way to work around a problem."
At the end of the exercise, Murphree attributed their success to a solid partnership with their Senegalese counterparts, solid planning, and overall motivation.
"I think coming in with an open mind and having an easy time working with them definitely helped. I think a great degree of planning on the leaders' parts to make sure that every operation, no matter if it's big or small, turned out well," Murphree said.
"I'm very happy to see all the hard work that my leaders and my company have put into this. In the end, we came up on top, ending on a high note with the company (live fire) that we just completed, and I'm just really proud of my guys and their performance."