WASHINGTON -- U.S. Army Security Assistance Command troops will underscore the organization mission when it deploys to train and advise one of the most powerful nations in northwest Africa early next year.
Several Soldiers from USASAC's Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO) will deploy in early January to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Although the United States has had close diplomatic relations with Nigeria since the 1960s, the continent's most populous country came into focus for some in 2014 when 276 school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group based in the nation's remote northeast territory. Thousands have been kidnapped, and thousands more have been killed, during Boko's eight-year insurgency.
But the Nigerian army, historically among Africa's strongest and most stable military forces, has been on the offensive against the group, along with coalition partners from neighboring African nations.
In support of USASAC's partnership-building mission, SATMO will deploy a small security assistance detachment to Nigeria in January to assist with small unit tactics training. Also joining the detachment are several Soldiers from the 1-32 Infantry Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
SATMO Detachment Commander Capt. Stephen Gouthro said his team will conduct platoon and company-level training with a Nigerian infantry battalion through mid-February. He said the "six solid weeks" of training is not intended to provide skills they already possess, but rather support a partner nation in improving their vast capabilities.
"We're not going to there to reinvent the wheel," Gouthro, "just make it a little rounder. We want to provide input that is adaptable to their current operating environment."
He called it a true collaboration between partners, and one that he and the team take very seriously.
"The troops we train will likely conduct combat operations with Boko Haram or other national threat groups in the near future," said Gouthro, "so we're hoping some of what we can share with our allies will be put to good use and ultimately save lives."
"The Nigerian army is a dedicated and professional force. They know the threats they have to face and they know they have to accomplish their mission," he said.
With few creature comforts, Gouthro's team will hit the ground running and ease the way for their U.S. Army Africa colleagues. USARAF conducts security force assistance and supports joint and international partners in order to achieve U.S. Army Africa Command's theater campaign plan objectives.
He described the SATMO detachment as a small element with enormous impact.
"Being a part of a much larger mission that is going to bolster U.S. national security while building partner capacity, is very humbling. We're looking forward to the assignment," he said.
SATMO is a USASAC subordinate organization that deploys U.S.-based teams to execute security assistance missions outside the continental United States. SATMO has successfully deployed training and advisory teams to every geographic combatant command, hence the motto "Training the World, One Soldier at a Time." Their mission is vital to achieving U.S. national security objectives and stability in various key locations throughout the world.