News: East Africa, US militaries exchange skills
Story by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon
EAST AFRICA – Ever since Texas National Guardsmen arrived in East Africa, they have been engaged in military-to-military exchanges throughout the region in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. Their mission is to build partner nation military capacity and promote stability in the region.
The guardsmen from Task Force Raptor, 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, have been invited to countries all over the East African region to exchange best practices on a variety of topics from combat casualty care and base defense to soldier development.
Recently, the unit’s leaders have participated in several noncommissioned and company grade officer specific seminars in Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi regarding planning, execution and leadership skills.
In Rwanda, Staff Sgt. Juan Zamora, sergeant-of-the-guard from Alpha Troop, and Capt. Jeffery Ortiz, commander of the 702nd Military Police Company, met with their counterparts for an exchange of best practices, March 19-30.
“The first week we were there, we discussed operation orders and how to prepare them,” Zamora said. “Then the second week we put the plan into action. It was interesting to see how things were very similar between us and them in how these are carried out.”
Ortiz noticed similarities while working with the Rwandan officers as well.
“Much of the planning is the same,” Ortiz said. “Even things like map reading and task-to- maneuver drills were very similar. This made it easier to move on to the second week when they pieced it all together and executed the tasks.”
Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Radley, platoon sergeant with the 712th MP Company and Capt. Todd Newcomer, commander of Alpha Troop, exchanged their best practices with Tanzanian noncommissioned officers and CGOs, May 2-18.
“We covered the basics of leadership,” Radley said. “They were very interested to know how our NCO corps functions. It allowed for an interesting discussion as they, in turn, shared their NCO leadership and duties.”
Newcomer said he remembers brushing up on his GPS skills at the seminar.
“They offered a class on using GPS for land navigation,” Newcomer said. “I’m used to using a map and compass, so the class was a welcomed refresher on the subject.”
In Burundi, Capt. Karim Branford, commander of Bravo Troop, 1st Lt. Matthew Colia, executive officer of the 702nd MP Company, and Sgt. Simon Zamora and Sgt. Travis Cox of Bravo Troop met with the Burundi’s National Defense Forces leaders and exchanged their experiences, May 14-25.
Branford said he was impressed by how quickly the Burundi soldiers grasped the information they were given by senior instructors.
“Most of the student officers in the class were new to op orders, but they were able to pick it up within a two-week period,” Branford said. “On the NCO side, a lot of them stepped up and assisted with the execution of the order. It was very impressive to see how well they put it all together and ran with it in such a short amount of time.”
Zamora attributed their impressive learning abilities to the pride they have of being Burundi soldiers.
“They did so well because they were eager to learn and eager to fulfill their duties as soldiers,” Zamora said. “They want to represent their country the best they can in everything they do and they take pride in that, very similar to U.S. soldiers.”
Of the exchanges between the Texas National Guardsmen and various host nation military members, a similar experience was shared by all the U.S. soldiers – the desire to return to their own units and train on what they learned.