OCTOBER 8, 2009: U.S. Army to Train Soldiers

U.S. Army Contingent to Train East African Armies

SOURCE: New Vision

By Chris Ocowun

Kampala — A US army contingent is camped in Kitgum to train East African armies in humanitarian assistance and fighting techniques. The advance guard of the expected 550 American soldiers embarked on a water purification exercise on Tuesday.

They installed water purification machines at Lagwel Dam in Akwang sub-county and another one at Aswa River.

The US army and contingents from Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda will undertake a joint field training exercise in dealing with disasters, said Lt. Col. David Konop, the US public affairs officer.

Under the operation code named 'natural fire', the US will also give East African armies tips on building capacity to enable them respond to epidemics like swine flu and Hepatitis E .

About 550 US soldier and 650 troops from the East African nations are expected to take part in the exercise, which will be launched next week at Pajimo barracks.

About 60 trucks delivered military equipment, building materials and drugs at the barracks.

In a press interview at their base, Maj. Richardo Wilson, who is in charge of operations, said his team had experienced delays due to the poor road network.

The advance team, he said, hoped to pump at least 20,000 litres of purified water every day to serve the joint troops and neighbouring communities.

"Each army is expected to demonstrate their skills in responding to disaster during the exercise," said Capt. Michael Van Derwood.

He explained that the East African armies will be trained in convoy operations and transportation of troops, hand-to-hand fighting techniques, basic military fighting skills, weapons training, helicopter operation, crowd or riot control, entry control point and vehicle check-point.

"Soldiers should be able to defend themselves through hand-to-hand if it comes to that, like in Iraq, where sometimes the distance between you and your enemies is narrow," he said.

At Pajimo barracks, each of the participating East African armies will establish its own camp with military equipment for demonstration and training.

The US army has engaged local and national contractors to build four huge tents that can serve as a dining hall, a sleeping place and a command post...

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