Contact Us Press Releases AFRICOM Portal
U.S. Africa Command Sergeant Major Welcomed by Natural Fire 10 Partner Nations
Senior enlisted advisors from the United States and five African partner nations in Exercise Natural Fire 10 met with Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command, during his visit to Task Force Kitgum in
KITGUM, Uganda - Multinational participants of exercise Natural Fire 10 gather for a group photo with Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command (back, 2nd from right), in Kitgum, Uganda, October 2009. During Ripka's visit to Kitgum, he met with senior enlisted advisors from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States to share ideas and training techniques. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Africa)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 2: KITGUM, Uganda - Multinational participants of exercise Natural Fire 10 gather for a group photo with Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command (back, 2nd from right), in Kitgum, Uganda, October 2009. During Ripka's visit to Kitgum, he met with senior enlisted advisors from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States to share ideas and training techniques. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Africa) Download full-resolution version
KITGUM, Uganda - Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command, is greeted by local residents of Kitgum, Uganda in October 2009. Ripka visited Kitgum to participate in a multinational military exercise called Natural Fire 10. Natural Fire brought together military members from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States to practice humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Africa)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 2: KITGUM, Uganda - Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command, is greeted by local residents of Kitgum, Uganda in October 2009. Ripka visited Kitgum to participate in a multinational military exercise called Natural Fire 10. Natural Fire brought together military members from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States to practice humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Africa) Download full-resolution version
KITGUM, Uganda - Multinational participants of exercise Natural Fire 10 gather for a group photo with Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command (back, 2nd from right), in Kitgum, Uganda, October 2009. During Ripka's visit to Kitgum, he met with senior enlisted advisors from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States to share ideas and training techniques. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Africa)
KITGUM, Uganda - Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command, is greeted by local residents of Kitgum, Uganda in October 2009. Ripka visited Kitgum to participate in a multinational military exercise called Natural Fire 10. Natural Fire brought together military members from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States to practice humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Africa)
Senior enlisted advisors from the United States and five African partner nations in Exercise Natural Fire 10 met with Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Africa Command, during his visit to Task Force Kitgum in October 2009.



Representatives from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States enjoyed the opportunity to sit and talk to each other about their families and careers, continuing the important partnership building that has been going on throughout the exercise.

Natural Fire 10, led by the Uganda People's Defence Forces and supported by U.S. Army Africa, the Army component of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), brings together military members from East Africa to practice humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and improve regional security.



The group included Warrant Officer Class 2 Angelina Mahawa of Tanzania, Warrant Officers Class 1 Charles Okello and Sam Bakaise of Uganda; Warrant Officer Class 2 David Kalimba of Rwanda; Warrant Officer Class 2 Ibraham Robow of Kenya; Warrant Officer Class 2 Serpe Nijungeko of Burundi; and Command Sergeant Major Lance Rygmyr of the United States.



Kalimba was pleased with the exchange of ideas. "We had a very good meeting, and we enjoyed it in fact," he said.



"We have shared ideas about how to lead the soldiers and how to cooperate," Robow agreed.



While he was in the Kitgum area, Ripka toured many of the sites where the Combined Joint Task Force Kitgum forces are working. He visited Kitgum High School where Navy Seabees are working side-by-side with engineering and construction soldiers from the East African partner nations to refurbish a damaged building.



The next stop was the Mucwini clinic, where exercise medical personnel were treating medical and dental conditions. There Ripka met the chief, or mayor, of the Mucwini area. He also stopped by Mucwini primary school, another engineering project, where he tried his hand at applying concrete with a trowel flick. "I got a big no go," he said.



"I think I've been most impressed by how our African nation partners and our U.S. forces are coming together and sharing ideas and thoughts, sharing training techniques," said Ripka.



After meeting with the other senior enlisted advisors, Ripka addressed the U.S. forces comprising Task Force Kitgum. He emphasized that this is not a United States exercise.



Uganda is hosting this exercise, and the United States is a small part of it, Ripka reminded the troops, "We are here at their request."



Ripka also took time to address culture and military differences and the issues and concerns that are critical for U.S. Africa Command.



"Our message has to be we want to learn from our partner nations," Ripka told the assembled troops, "I saw some great training out here today. There was some training that our partner nations were in the lead, and there was some training that our U.S. forces were in the lead."



Okello had a request for his fellow senior enlisted advisors as they return to their countries, "Advise the soldiers not always to look at becoming an officer. You can become a sergeant major and hold the position for betterment of your country."



PARTNERSHIPS OPERATIONS READINESS