hirty-nine participants from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, and Sierra Leone gathered at Humanitarian and Peace Support School (HPSS) for a course on the military decision making process taught by instructors from the Department of State’s Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) team and mentors from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), May 3, 2014, in Embakasi, Nairobi, Kenya.
The course began with an opening ceremony welcoming African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) partners. Opening comments were given by U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr., CJTF-HOA commanding general, and Kenyan Defense Force Col. Godfrey Gitonga, HPSS Commandant.
“Our job was to augment and build relationships with our fellow military officers of those countries as they learn military decision making processes,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Tim Hughes, CJTF-HOA Civil Military Operations mission commander. “The course was instructional with practical exercises of the military decision making process and other specialized classes. For example, we taught counterinsurgency, intelligence preparation of the area of operations and information operations support.”
AMISOM Force Headquarters training focused on staffing and making decisions at the operational level and learning how to execute those decisions to better fight against violent extremist organizations.
In the past, CJTF-HOA training has focused on tactical-level courses, such as counter-IED and sniper training.
“It was very good to work with nations that have already operated within Somalia because we get their perspective,” said U.S. Army Capt. Robert McCaskey, CJTF-HOA 1-18th Infantry Battalion current ops officer-in-charge. “It is good to talk to the people who have been on the ground operating there and see how the training we have done for them in the classroom prior to deployment pays off.”
Students applied all the information and training they received throughout the course into a command post exercise in the final week.
The Department of State-funded course gave the multinational military leaders the opportunity to learn from each other, strengthen relationships and gain more knowledge about one another’s operations.
“We are better leaders [because of this training],” said Hughes. “We better understand the environment of East Africa; and most importantly, we learned more about our teammates’ efforts to ensure regional security and stability and their fight against violent extremists.”