LUSAKA, Zambia -- Zambian Defense Force and U.S. Army Africa chaplain corps met at the Zambian Defense Force conference center Jan. 23-25 to discuss African continental peacekeeping operations deployment cycle support and to study the emotional and spiritual stresses of combat on the African continent.
The event, hosted by Zambian Defense Force Chief of Chaplains Brig. Gen. Vincent Mwenya, was part of the ZDF chaplain corps multi-year developmental plan and a continuation of USARAF and Zambian chaplain collaboration. The developmental plan includes crafting a basic core curriculum and subsequent training implementation for the entire joint force of the Zambian chaplains corps.
Topics chosen by Mwenya and discussed during the conference included women and combat, suicide prevention, and moral leadership development and ethical behavior.
"I have never felt so ready for deployment and also to help families of our troops on deployment as I feel now because of the knowledge and insight I got from the seminar," said Maj. Bossy Nkhoma, a Zambia hospital chaplain.
"Zambian chaplains brought a wealth of peacekeeping operations deployment experience, from veterans of the Rwandan genocidal period to the present day stresses of Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo," said USARAF Command Chaplain (Col.) David Lile.
Lile and Sgt. 1st Class George L. Butler, the USARAF senior religious affairs NCO, met with 31 chaplains and chaplain assistants from the Zambian joint force during the eight-day exchange.
"This group of chaplains has collectively witnessed the 78 Zambian peacekeeping deployment deaths to date," Lile said. "Throughout two decades of deployment, they have been an essential element to an impeccable record of human rights and ethical behavior in the toughest neighborhoods of Africa."
Zambia has been actively involved with peacekeeping operations and routinely partners with USARAF for security cooperation events on the African continent. The last chaplain exchange between the two took place in March 2017.
Through defense institution building exchanges, Mwenya hopes to learn from U.S. Chaplain Corps programs of instruction and ultimately build an accredited Zambian chaplain center and school in Lusaka that will to offer standardized training to all joint Zambian chaplains.