TAMALE, Ghana — Utah National Guard Soldiers from the Homeland Response Force – Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Task Force traveled overseas to train with Ghana Armed Forces as part of Exercise African Lion 2023 May 31-June 14.
Utah Soldiers trained on how to respond in a CBRN environment and learned firefighting techniques from their GAF counterparts.
“We have been training with Ghana Armed Forces while working in a hazardous materials or dangerous goods environment,” said U.S. Army Maj. Kory Lund, deputy commander of the HRF-CBRN. “The training is going really well and it is strengthening our partnership with the Ghana military. As we build on one another, we increase our friendships and interoperability. We help our Ghana partners by showing them our best practices and they help us by showing their established procedures.”
Participants learned the fundamentals of decontamination and donning protective gear to contain an area where chemical contaminants are present. They also learned the steps to detecting CBRN environments.
“We are the CBRN experts and we are helping them learn those skills, and they (Ghana Armed Forces personnel) are [explosive ordnance disposal] and firefighting experts,” said Lund. “As we teach our material, they help us understand their environment better.”
Lund said working together enables the HRF-CBRN to understand how U.S. EOD may approach a situation involving explosives and contaminants.
While the main focus was on CBRN training, U.S. Soldiers and Ghana Armed Forces members built lasting bonds and friendships.
“The training has gone really well. We’ve met a ton of people and have seen a lot of new perspectives,” said U.S. Army Spc. Cierra Frandsen, a CBRN specialist with the Utah National Guard’s HRF-CBRN. “We are really grateful for the time we’ve been given out here to not only teach them but to train with them and learn from them.”
U.S. Soldiers were not the only ones to learn new perspectives, as participating GAF Soldiers had many questions for their U.S. counterparts.
“The coordination has been very good because they are free for us to ask them any question,” said Ghana Armed Forces Sgt. Richard Darkwa, an explosive ordnance disposal technician. “If you don’t understand something, they are open to answer any question you ask them and they are very understanding. More exercises like this should be organized so that others that work in different fields also have the chance to share the experience.”
The combined CBRN training embodied the African Lion ethos: “Stronger Together.”
African Lion is an annual multinational training exercise between the United States and participating African nations to improve interoperability and build partnerships. This year’s iteration features 18 nations and over 8,000 personnel hosted by Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana.