Kenyan military unite with CJTF-HOA for peacekeeping operations

13 Aug 2003 | -

Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa personnel instructed Kenyan Army and Air Force military during the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program at Embakasi, a Kenyan airbase in Nairobi, from July 21 - Aug. 15.

The ACOTA program provides training in peacekeeping operations and regular military tactics to military units from selected 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.

CJTF-HOA personnel have provided ACOTA instruction to nearly 900 Ethiopian soldiers, but this was the first time they've brought it into Kenya.

"The Department of State requested CJTF-HOA to provide military personnel to serve as assistant instructors for the operation," said Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Jose Mantilla, a member of Civil Affairs acting as an ACOTA instructor. "The program enhances training and operational capabilities, and ensures interoperability for multi-national crisis response situations."

"I believe ACOTA training is a good impact on the Kenyan military," Mantilla said, who taught civil-military operations and basic first aid. "Having CJTF-HOA working in conjunction with the Kenyan military establishes a good relation between forces."

ACOTA incorporates training for offensive military operations, including light infantry and small unit tactics. This enhances the ability of African troops to conduct peacekeeping operations in hostile environments.

Kenyan Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph Kibatta believes ACOTA training enables the Kenyan military to jointly operate in peacekeeping missions.

"We've adapted to the training very well and look forward to passing it on," he said. "The American instructors have done a good job in training our officers. Their approach is unique. They do not lecture, but set up practical scenarios, which helps the students develop better problem solving skills."

According to Marcell Lettre, peacekeeping ACOTA instructor and retired Army Col., the instructors teach based on a coaching method. "We don't force our procedures on our students; we let them use their own doctrine and techniques. We time our progress based on the level of expertise our training audience has."

Lettre added, "it is rewarding seeing the development of young officers being able to accomplish a difficult mission in a professional way."

Other areas of instruction were covered by three personal security detachment Marines of CJTF-HOA. They covered land navigation, patrolling, military operations on urban terrain, crowd control, checkpoint procedures and convoy operations. They also monitored and participated in live-fire training for one week at Stony Athi range, located outside of Nairobi.

"This is good peacekeeping operational training," said Kenyan Army Maj. Stephen Obonyo. "It is important to us because we have to establish a standard doctrine for peacekeeping operations.

"I take as much of this training in as I can," he said. "What I learn and do here is how my soldiers will perform on their own mission. What the Americans have taught me has impacted the way I will instruct my soldiers down the road."

"Training with the Kenyan military was solid," said Marine Sgt. Brian Boger, PSD ACOTA instructor. "Their military profession and culture alone impressed me everyday during our time together. This entire operation has offered me rewarding experiences and opportunities I never would have had anywhere else."

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