Camp Ramrod, Ethiopia --
The Army 10th Mountain Division supporting Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa has been participating in military-to-military training with the Ethiopian Army here since the beginning of July.
The 3rd platoon, Charlie Company 10th Mtn. from Fort Drum, New York is currently training with the 13th Div. Reconnaissance Company from Dire Dawa, Ethiopia in antiterrorist operations supporting CJTF-HOA's mission of detecting, disrupting and defeating transnational terrorism in the East African region.
The Task Force conducts training in antiterrorist operations and regular military tactics with military units with host nation countries in Africa. CJTF-HOA defines the Horn of Africa region as the total airspace and land areas of Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia and the coastal waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Having been deployed to the Middle East region several times, Army Staff Sgt. Steven Johnson, sniper section leader, explained military-to-military training plays positive role to American forces.
"Terrorists thrive on chaos and disorder," Johnson said. "By having American soldiers here conducting training with and helping organize the Ethiopian military, it is a big deterrent to terrorist groups that may be in the region. By word of mouth, terrorists will know there is American presence in Ethiopia, which will cause them to leave the area."
According to Ethiopian Lt. Col. Tadesse Ayalew, instructor with Recon Co., Americans training with the Ethiopian Army is an essential element of their command mission.
"It's important they're assisting us to help cancel out and dismiss terrorists in the land," Ayalew said. "Because of the American techniques and classes, we have a better understanding on how to fight and get rid terrorists.
"The American government is not only helping us in a military way, but also improving our towns and economy," he added. "Our friendship is much stronger; we are grateful for their support."
Johnson explained the training with the Ethiopians is broken up into four weeks, each being the beginning of a new training phase.
"Week one is based on platoon movements, week two the shooting range, week three is focusing on a particular mission and week four is accomplishing that mission," he said.
With a handful of interpreters within the Ethiopian company, the 10th Mtn. instructors were able to give classes without a problem.
"Their ability to learn is what has amazed us the most," said Johnson. "When it comes to obtaining information, the soldiers are like sponges, they'll take in everything they can. They took notes, they got to the class early, and you would see them get together on their own and practice off to the side."
Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Morris, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, said being in a different country, observing both Ethiopian and American soldiers interact with each other is motivating to see.
"It's been a very good experience for all of our soldiers," said Morris. "We've gained quite a good bond with the Ethiopians. The one-on-one relation is very good for both militaries."
For most of 10th Mtn's. soldiers this will be the only time they will have the opportunity to train with a foreign military.
"This is definitely a good experience working with Ethiopian soldiers. It's a once in a lifetime experience," said Sgt. Scott D. Michael, team leader. "This is something new for not only them but for us as well. A couple of the younger soldiers have approached me, asking if they could have more time training with the Ethiopians - it's really a great time."