DAKAR, Senegal -- Senegalese Armed Forces and U.S. Army Africa began the two-week Africa Readiness Training 2016 in Thies, Senegal, July 12.
The first in a series of planned annual USARAF exercises, ART 2016 brings together U.S. Army Soldiers from U.S. Africa Command's Regionally Aligned Force with African partners to increase U.S. and partner readiness through tough and realistic training, including combined live-fire events, counter-improvised explosive device detection and combat casualty care.
Soldiers and headquarters staff of 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division collaborated with the Senegalese Armed Forces to identify exercise training objectives and will partner to complete squad to company-level combined arms training.
“Success for us looks like joint integration and the ability to share information between U.S. and Senegalese forces,” said Capt. Gerald Popko from Woodstock, N.Y, battalion military intelligence officer with 1-30th Inf. and current operations officer for ART 16.
“We had high expectations of the Senegalese forces coming into this, knowing they are a highly trained and disciplined force, but those were blown away even when we got here,” Popko said. “Their level of discipline, motivation and training proficiency really proved to be a lot higher than what we could have expected.”
Conducting training in Senegal provides unique challenges and opportunities for U.S. Soldiers.
“We will be learning as much from them as they will be learning from us, and we look forward to seeing a new perspective on military operations,” Popko said.
The intent for all is to enhance the Senegalese Army's ability to train and certify forces, both in Senegal and internationally, to support future operations.
“This is going to be a good experience for us and good for the cooperation between Senegal and United States forces,” said Lt. Col. Souley Mane, commander of the Senegalese 1st Paratrooper Battalion. “This cooperation will enable us to be a part of those people sorting out the problems and conflicts going on in the world and, mostly, Africa.”