Third Army shapes the future in Ethiopia

By Col. Matthew Dawson, Third Army/USARCENT Operational Fire and Effects Synchronization ChiefSeptember 13, 2009

Throughout the time that I have been at Third Army/U.S. Army Central, I have learned building relationships with partner nations plays a key role in shaping the future.

Third Army's theatre security cooperation events provide the venue to create and foster these bonds by increasing interoperability and enhancing partner capacity. Lt. Gen. William G. Webster, Third Army commanding general, emphasized this by stating the program "fosters relationship building across our diverse area of operations and facilitates bilateral and multilateral dialogue on the complex security challenges faced by today's armies."

I recently traveled to Ethiopia for one of our TSC events at the Ethiopian Defense Command and Staff College ( EDCSC) in Addis Ababa. While there, I was asked to teach Design to EDCSC students, who are general and senior field grade officers in the Ethiopian Military. Design is an emerging piece of Army doctrine. It offers a way to enhance a commander's understanding through visuals.

Sharing design concepts with the senior Ethiopian leaders was important because they were entering a phase in their studies that dealt with strategic and critical thinking, which Design supports remarkably well. The Design techniques allowed the Ethiopian military to apply their learning. Four U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonels and one U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel led the program. Their mission is to assist staff, mentor students and offer guidance in curriculum, which ranges from leadership, joint operations, military communication, research methods and English.

I learned that the team is building a mentorship program at the EDCSC which engages senior leaders across the Ethiopian defense forces, preparing future Ethiopian instructors to take over instruction duties.

They immediately began to apply Design concepts to issues in their military and nation. I benefitted from their insights as much, if not more, than they benefitted from my presentations. But what was remarkable was what I witnessed, not what I did.

The team utilized the train-the-trainer method. The student interaction with the U.S. faculty was remarkable. They were clearly one team working toward a goal. The students seized every moment to pursue their goal.

The U.S. and Ethiopian officers filled the breaks with heated debates and discussions on course material. The students challenged the instructors on key points offering their opinions and perspectives. At the end of the day it was a professor's dream: interested, involved students who were aggressively pursuing the educational process.

In October, Third Army transfers responsibility of the Horn of Africa to U.S. Army Africa. As a result, AFRICOM will assume oversight of this program. Third Army/USARCENT will continue to support this program during the transition and U.S. Army Reserve officers will continue to staff the advisory team for year-long assignments.