MOGADISHU, Somalia 08/17/2018 Story and Photos by MC2 (SW/AW) Evan Parker Defense Media Activity, Europe Africa
Soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division, based out of Ft. Drum, New York, recently completed training with soldiers from Somalia’s Danab (Lightning) Advanced Infantry Battalion in the country’s capital region of Mogadishu. This is the second year U.S. Soldiers have provided logistics training and equipment in order to assist building the logistics network of the Somali National Army (SNA).
“The training was a multi-faceted logistics course focused on beginner level logistics, like what’s the first thing you do when you walk up to a vehicle to perform (preventative maintenance checks and services)? Well, you turn it on and check the lights, things like that. We also talked about things like waste management all the way to pulling security,” said 1st Lt. Chris Smith, a 10th Mountain Division train and equip officer in charge. “It was well rounded to say the least. Towards the mid-point of the course, we listened to what the Somali soldiers had to say, good and bad, then we tailored future exercises and in-depth training to what the Danab wanted to work on.”
The U.S. government provides training to the Danab battalion and donates logistical equipment, such as forklifts, tractors and fuel trucks, totaling roughly $6.5 million of heavy equipment.
“I attribute how close our team and the Somali soldiers worked together to how fast they picked up some of our technical skills and proficiencies,” Smith said. “It was really rewarding to see where everyone started, to where we all ended up together. I’m really proud of the guys we trained and especially our guys and the way they took on making this course a success.”
The U.S.-led training builds off of the ground work laid back in May 2017, when the 101st Airborne Division conducted the inaugural iteration of the course. During the 2017 training, the course graduated 60 Danab soldiers as logistics specialists. This year, the course had 31 soldiers, but the length has more than tripled from four to 14 weeks, with a more intimate class size to dive deeper into the specific skill sets.
The U.S.-led logistics training, which was requested for the second year by the Somali government, was capped off with a graduation ceremony and skills demonstration.
“If you learn how to think about (a problem) and if you learn how to handle the problem, it is no longer a problem,” said Maj. Ahmed, a logistics officer from the Danab battalion. “We one hundred percent appreciate the American Soldiers and government for all they have done for us and we look forward to more training.”
Although, the footprint created with only nine train and equip trainers is small, it is designed to build capacity for the logistical operations and sustainment in support of the Somali federal government. Logistical training and equipment donations provide a means to enhance the SNA’s capability, which contributes to regional stability.