VICENZA, Italy – Erica Barks-Ruggles, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda, toured U.S. Army training facilities in Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, Germany Oct. 21-22 to explore opportunities for further security cooperation between the U.S. and Rwandan Defence Forces.
The Joint Multinational Training Command, based in Grafenwoehr, is the U.S. Army’s largest overseas training command, offering combat maneuver and simulation centers, live-fire ranges as well as expeditionary capabilities to train U.S., NATO and partner-nation units and leaders.
Brig. Gen. Kenneth Moore, U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general, accompanied Barks-Ruggles on her tour of the facilities. USARAF routinely partners with Rwandan forces as part of the annual Accord series of exercises and several direct security-cooperation events annually.
“She is visiting because she is interested in the capabilities of the RDF,” said Moore. Rwanda is one of the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions.
The Africa Contingency Operations Training & Assistance, or ACOTA, is funded by the U.S. State Department and currently provides the RDF with most of its training opportunities. "The mission of ACOTA is to enhance the capacities and capabilities of its African Partner Countries, regional institutions, and the continent’s peacekeeping resources as a whole so that they can plan for, train, deploy, and sustain sufficient quantities of professionally competent peacekeepers to meet conflict transformation requirments with minimal non-African assistance." - U.S. State Department website.
During the two-day visit, Barks-Ruggles received briefs and toured facilities at both JMTC in Grafenwoehr and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels.
Building partner capacity is also very much a priority in USARAF “We would like to see the RDF have the institutions to train themselves in specialty areas, such as logistics and medical, as well as be able to train noncommissioned officers,” said Moore.
USARAF works regularly with JMTC and U.S. Army Europe to improve readiness and effectiveness of missions conducted on the continent of Africa.
One example of the capabilities was the JMTC - 7th Noncommissioned Officers Academy which has trained multiple African partner-nation leaders.
“I hope this tour informed the Ambassador of the capabilities that our military forces can provide in assisting the RDF,” said Moore. “We have to leverage our partners to fulfill strategic objectives set forth by U.S. Army Africa Command,” said Moore. “These partner capabilities are what help USARAF achieve the Army’s Total Force concept.”