By Sgt. Terysa M. King U.S. Army Africa Public AffairsApril 19, 2012
MOMBASA, Kenya (April 16, 2012) -- The first Antiterrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) Level II class to take place in Africa included 16 students from different areas of responsibility throughout the continent. The AT/FP 11 class, along with an escape enhancement class, hosted by U.S. Army Africa, took place in the city of Mombasa, Kenya March 26-30.
The AT/FP training provided the necessary tools for U.S. personnel living and working in Africa to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks, and paved the way for lasting relationships built with members of the Department of State and Department of Defense.
Antonio Hardy, a USARAF AT analyst, planned the event after the U.S. Embassy in Kenya's capital of Nairobi, requested the training in November 2011.
"There are so many people from Department of State and Department of Defense who have not had this Anti Terrorism training. This training is relevant to the embassies in Africa and the jobs that these people have to do because the embassies are like a small installation. The embassy people have to know how to secure their workplace and have policies and procedures there to mitigate the threats," Hardy, an Atlanta native, said.
Mike Miller, an AT/FP instructor with Department of the Air Force, said it is important to build relationships with the country team and regional security officers due to the unique situation in Africa. To conduct current and future operations, the country team and RSOs are utilized to help conduct joint exercises and other operations.
"Inside AFRICOM (Africa Command), both U.S. Army Africa and U.S. Air Force Africa's unique mission faces security challenges, and force protection has to be in the forefront, and to do that successfully, you have to have a good relationship with both DoD in-country and DoS. It was an excellent opportunity to get some training for all those organizations," Miller, a Chicago, Ill. native, said.
Subjects covered during the training included critical assessments, vulnerability assessments, risk management, target analysis and contingency operations. Near the end of the course, students applied all their classroom training in a vulnerability assessment practical exercise.
Training consisted of students from different areas of operation and job fields from all over the continent. Personnel who have had years of experience in AT/FP traded ideas and shared their experiences with those whose only experience with AT/FP was the required annual online training.
Air Force Master Sgt. Andrea Slaga, an operations Noncommissioned Officer with the Defense Attaché Office, U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, said the training was a good refresher for her. Slaga, an Ocala, Fla. native, said she was familiar with some of the training because one of her responsibilities is to facilitate when her office has visitors coming to Kenya.
"When we have important visitors that come in we make recommendations based off what we see as safe and what we see as a potentially unsafe place for visitors to be," Slaga said.
Sgt. Michael Brown, an administration NCO with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said he really enjoyed the class because it is not something he deals with in his job duties.
"After taking the class I realized you can never be too aware. I thought I was being very cautious, but I learned not to do certain things and what to do if I was in a situation like that. Also with that escape enhancement class, I found it very useful. Because I live in Africa, it puts a huge tool in my tool box," Brown, a Riegelwood, N.C. native, said.
Since this was the first time this training was held in Africa, many observers came to sit in on the training to listen in and brainstorm ways to improve the course based off feedback from students.
Craig Benedict, an AT strategic and training analyst with the Department of the Army said he wants to make sure the training is applicable to U.S. personnel in Africa, and people are prepared for the environment they go into.
"As a member of the Department of the Army's antiterrorism office, we're here to see what the course is, what it looks like, and how we can improve it for Army personnel in the Africa AOR. Just like all AORs, there are unique aspects to this one, and we want to make sure Army personnel are prepared for this AOR before they get here -- this kind of training will help them do that. [We want them to] have an awareness of a possible terrorist attack and how they're supposed to respond for their personal protection," Benedict, a Fairfax, Va. native, said.
Building awareness in today's high threat environment is essential to ensure the safety of both U.S. military and civilian citizens both stationed in Africa and temporarily passing through.
David Saunders, an AT/FP II instructor with the DoAF, said he hopes people will remember what they were taught in training and will be able to work with members of the DoD and DoS to make sure personnel can reduce the risks of possible threats.
"Not to sound like an AFN commercial, but the threat is real, and especially in this AOR they can never let their guard down. They need to continue to practice basics and prevent the threat from occurring," Saunders, a Franklin, W.Va. native, said.
The AT/FP level II course takes place annually at different locations in Africa.