The U.S. Army has been training the Kenyan army in dealing with counter
A team of U.S. Army soldiers from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa recently concluded a month-long operation during which they teamed with the Kenyan Army to develop a counter-improvised-explosive-device training program for East African militaries, April 2011. Drawing on their own experiences and training, the three-man team partnered with soldiers from the Kenyan army to share information with four classes of service members from several East African nations including Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Comoros and Uganda.
Their initial goal was to ensure the Kenyans could teach the class on their own, and by the end of their month in Nairobi they were doing little more than watching from the sidelines. “When we first started, [the student instructors] didn’t know what IED stood for,” said U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Moore, mission commander. “But by the time we were finished, they were teaching the classes pretty much entirely on their own. We were able to sit back and only assist if needed.” According to Moore, the initial class was comprised of 20 Kenyan soldiers, eight of whom were selected to remain at the training facility to teach their fellow Africans the curriculum. After the first week, each class was made up of about 45 soldiers from various branches of each nation’s military. Each week also saw the Kenyan instructors leading more of the instruction. The course, which was held at the Humanitarian Peace Support School in Nairobi, consisted of five days of learning, half of which was spent in a classroom environment and the other half conducting practical exercises. Initially, the students learned to identify an improvised explosive device and took an abbreviated first aid course focusing on wounds commonly suffered in IED attacks, Moore said. As the week progressed, the focus shifted to foot patrols and vehicle-borne operations, IED recognition, reaction procedures and basic demolition. As a culmination to the course, the students prepared and employed a small, simple explosive charge. “The purpose of the [demolition] was to allow them to see that the skills they learned out here really do work,” Moore said. By the time the Army team, which included Staff Sergeant Brendan Mcevoy and Sergeant Jerry Kastein, Charlie Company, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion/137th Infantry, Kansas National Guard, left Kenya, 149 African service members had graduated the course. The lessons they learned could potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of lives, Moore said. “In today’s warfare — and it’s happening everywhere in the world, not just Iraq and Afghanistan — IEDs are becoming a huge threat because they’re extremely cheap and effective,” he said. “So it’s important for every army to learn counter-IED procedures.” The HPSS commandant, Kenyan army Colonel Boniface Ngulutu, ensured the soldiers knew the value of the knowledge they received in his speech at their graduation. “The awareness we are trying to create with this training is going to be very useful,” he said. “You have benefited, we have benefited as an institution and we have benefited as a region. “The impact we are going to create is huge,” the colonel continued. “We are going to have you go back to your countries — back to your units — and when you go back, make use of this knowledge.” Kenyan army Senior Sergeant Kinyua Ireri, one of the eight original students selected to become a course instructor, also said the partnership were highly beneficial to those who attended the course. “We are very lucky to have the Americans here to share their experiences with us,” he said. “As a trainer, I believe that it is good to have knowledge, because knowledge always expels fear.”
A continuation of deepening ties between both nations. Kenya is quickly becoming part of US strategic planning as it is located towards the Indian Ocean and the potential for deep water parts is very high if built right. The training conducted will help Kenya be more aware and prepared for improvised IED attacks given the past terrorist attacks in Nairobi by Al-Qaeda.