Approximately 53 Kenya Defense Forces combat engineer soldiers and officers set off explosives with U.S. Navy Sailors from Task Force Sparta during Deliberate Kindle 2016, Sept. 19, at a training center in Kenya.
The demolition training was one part of Deliberate Kindle 2016, a four-week course focused on Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA), tactical combat medical training and train-the-trainer instruction. Provided by Task Force Sparta, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, the training was designed to prepare the KDF soldiers for future deployments in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
"We are going to be doing live demo operations with KDF soldiers," said U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Ryan Waller, Deliberate Kindle 2016 senior instructor. "Essentially what we are doing is a culmination of everything they have learned last week and this morning, as far as demolition operations,"
U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians and KDF soldiers reviewed demolition and safety procedures before going to the range to set up and detonate explosives provided by the KDF. Once they were at the range they conducted time calculations for the detonation cords.
Then it was time to set up. Groups of four KDF soldiers went to the designated mound to set up their explosive charges, lit the time fuse to begin the explosive chain, and together they retreated to a larger mound at a distance away for safety.
The time fuse burned for three minutes, detonating the explosives, and the demolition was a success.
"It's so beneficial for us because it will help us to detonate the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other unexploded devices and ordnances, and enable (us) to enhance our troops mobility by destroying the enemy obstacles," said KDF Warrant Officer Athumani, squadron sergeant major. "It's so important because they train us on new things and equipment that we now normally use. The knowledge we have now and the knowledge we gained from the USA, adding them together I think we will be perfect."
The KDF soldiers practiced non-electric demolition charges that day. Waller said that becoming proficient in all aspects of the combat engineers job is the "key."
"For future mission accomplishment, it makes sense to be proficient at your job. As combat engineers, this is one of their main jobs, to do demolition operations or counter-IED, if possible," Waller said. "To be as proficient as possible at all times is key for these (soldiers). Them maintaining proficiency and be(ing) constantly capable to do things on their own allows for greater partner capacity and the overall regional stability."
The overall training is critical for preparing soldiers deploying in support of AMISOM to obtain regional security and stability in East Africa. In particular, AMISOM soldiers will need to master these skills in Somalia, where al-Shabaab routinely uses improvised explosive devices against Somalia National Army and AMISOM troops.
Deliberate Kindle 2016 is scheduled to conclude on Sept. 30, 2016.