A recent U.S. Army Africa organized training event helped prepare a Uganda Peoples' Defense Force military police company for an upcoming deployment to Somalia.
USARAF Provost Marshal, Lt. Col. Edwin H. Escobar said military police personnel from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division provided 10 weeks of instruction to UPDF personnel.
"In broad strokes, 21 instructors from the regionally aligned force from 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., conducted training on route security, riot control, marksmanship, first aid and combatives," Escobar said. "As far as I know, this was the first theater security cooperation military police train and equip event for USARAF. Additionally, it was the first time Africa Command has used a RAF in this capacity."
He said the training helped prepare the Ugandan MPs to plan, execute and sustain counterterrorism operations against Al-Shabaab and other Al Qaeda affiliates in Somalia.
"The African Union Mission in Somalia known as AMISOM, is a regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations in Somalia," Escobar said. "Uganda contributes over 6,000 troops to the AMISOM.
He explained that the training helps forge relationships with Uganda as a partner nation.
"This training was innovative, low-cost and provided a small-footprint approach to achieve security objectives enabling African land forces to address African problems. USARAF and the RAF developed an appreciation for the UPDF. Additionally, this training solidified trust and confidence between our two military organizations," Escobar said.
Escobar praised the Singo training facility and the UPDF students.
"The UPDF military police company was composed of 145 soldiers and commanded by Capt. Alex Tinka. He is an able leader and a nine-year veteran of the UPDF with two tours in Somalia. Instruction took place at the Peace Support Operations Training Center in Singo which is about an hour-and-a-half north of the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The UPDF logistics support was superb and the students were sharp and very motivated," Escobar said.
According to Escobar the training event in Uganda featured several training highlights.
"Everything went very well. Several classes generated excitement for the UPDF students. The combat life saver training turned out to be a popular class. We understood that it was the first time an entire MP company was given medical training. Other popular phases of instruction were military police river crossing operations, unarmed self defense training, military operations in urban terrain known as MOUT and riot control practical exercises," Escobar said.
Gianni Iurassich of USARAF's G-3 Security Cooperation Directorate explains the missions in more detail.
"As part of this train and equip case, the UPDF MPs will receive personal military equipment such as body armor, first aid kits, canteens, weapons and a few armored sport utility vehicles and trailers," Iurassich said. "Getting this equipment to the MPs allows them to become force multipliers and assist the Somali National Army and police forces in maintaining security in Moghadishu and in other parts of Somalia where AMISOM retains control," he said.
Iurassich said Brig. Leopold Kyanda, the UPDF Land Force chief of staff, attended the MP company graduation ceremony in August and praised the training provided by the RAF instructors.
Escobar said he received an education from the training event as well.
"Representing the office of primary responsibility and as the lead planner, I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from this mission. It was the first time that the RAF was used in this capacity while working with our higher headquarters, AFRICOM. The teamwork of USARAF staff ensured I was on the right path. The leadership was there in support as I marched forward working with a lot of entities for mission accomplishment," Escobar said.
During a ceremony commemorating the end of training, USARAF commander Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II complimented participants while looking ahead to cementing future relationships with the UPDF.
"Indeed, the knowledge and skills you gained over the last two-and-a-half months are immeasurable and will serve you well throughout your careers. But the relationships you developed will last a lifetime," Donahue said.
Escobar addressed the success of the Ugandan train and equip event.
"USARAF and the RAF successfully met all training objectives. Additionally, we exceeded the desired capability," Escobar said.
"This UPDF MP company is better prepared for their future AMISOM deployment and our program of instruction laid the groundwork to capture the forward progress of applying academics and theory in combat. This was evident as the UPDF MP Company proved to be an effective and cohesive unit during its final evaluation," he said.