By Christen N. McCluney, Special to American Forces Press ServiceSeptember 30, 2009
WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Africa and several African countries are joining together in a multi-national, globally resourced exercise focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett, III, commander of U.S. Army Africa discussed the U.S. Army's newest component command and its upcoming Exercise Natural Fire '10, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise in a Sept. 29 DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable.
Working with five eastern African nations, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, U.S. Army Africa will conduct a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise in Uganda Oct. 16-25. This event is the largest DoD exercise in Africa in 2009.
Garrett shared that this activity will enhance the United States and partners capabilities in working together in response to complex humanitarian and emergency disaster relief. The exercise will focus on a variety of areas including pandemic influenza training scenario and field training exercises and humanitarian and civic action projects in Northern Uganda that include medical dental and engineering programs
"U.S. Army Africa and this entire team here is very proud to be a part of, Natural Fire '10 and I anticipate this will be a great exercise for all the participants," said Garrett.
The exercise will take place at three locations in Uganda; Entebbe, Kampala and Kitgum. At the first two sites, U.S. and African military leaders will participate in tabletop exercises dealing with emergencies in Africa such as pandemic flu response. In Kitgum, the partnering countries will work on tasks that support disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. They will also be working on medical and dental care at four different health centers and government facilities, garret shared, along with engineering projects at the local primary school, high school and hospital.
He also shared that the joint task force headquarters will be providing field and tabletop control for all the exercises along with three CH-47 helicopters and six ships.
"Many of our engagement opportunities have been bilateral, so this is the first time for us all to get together as a group of partner nations to work together," Garrett said.
Garrett also discussed the challenges that may be faced during the exercises, but that coordination and communication over the extended distances will assist in bringing together all the partners is an important element to make this exercise a success.
"This exercise enhances mutual understanding and stability and security," said Garrett. "It is forcing all the militaries to interact and look at strengths and weaknesses and shortcomings." Garrett also said that he looks forward to being a reliable source in Africa and will continue to be there in the long haul with our friends.