VICENZA, Italy -- In accordance with the upcoming Malawi Battalion deployment (MALBAT 10) and the commencement of another iteration of the Malawi Defense Force Sergeants Major Academy, U.S. Army Africa and MDF chaplains held a military-to-military event in Salima, Malawi, Feb. 28 to March 2.
Forty MDF chaplains and chaplain assistants were present for the engagement, which involved discussions on just war theory and application, ethics, religious support during mass casualties, combat stress management and deployment cycle reintegration methodologies.
The event was "a popular exchange that brought together MDF chaplains and chaplain assistants for a comprehensive discussion of topics ranging from combat stress to suicide prevention," said Maj. Paul Corbitt, the U.S. Embassy Malawi office of security cooperation chief.
Learning how to provide troops with spiritual support is vital because peacekeeping operational deployments take a toll on the force, said Brig. Gen. George Phiri, the MDF chief of training.
The general encouraged the USARAF command chaplain team, Chaplain (Col.) David Lile and Sgt. Maj. Timothy Metcalf to ensure the spiritual aspects of warrior formation were not overlooked during the event, Lile said.
Brig. Gen. Swithun Mchungula, the Malawi Armed Forces College commandant, shared this concern, and expressed hope that MDF chaplains can train ethics and suicide prevention in the academy and other courses at MAFCO in the near future.
"Young people and families need proper ethical training and family reintegration care," he said.
Lile said with the shift away from traditional peacekeeping and toward peace enforcement, the MDF chaplains recounted rich teaching vignettes concerning mass casualties and mental and spiritual traumas of peace enforcement with stabilization forces.
"They brought a wealth of PKO religious support experience, most notably their ongoing U.N. Force Intervention Brigade deployments to the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- six contingents since the 2013 inception," he said.
According to Metcalf, the exchange reflected commitment both from MDF chaplains and senior leaders to provide the necessary cohesive spiritual support to troops engaged in peace enforcement operations.
"I was impressed with the professionalism of their chaplaincy and the desire of MDF senior leadership to develop an even more proficient chaplain corps and army," he said.