Africa engagements stress importance of security assistance

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Feb. 6, 2014) -- The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command Commanding General and its Regional Operations Director for U.S. Africa Command conducted engagements with Uganda and Kenya military officers, State Department officials and Defense Department representatives from the respective countries' Offices of Security Cooperation last month. 

The visits were designed to allow one-on-one discussions with Maj. Gen. Del Turner and Col. Marvin Whitaker regarding both countries' security assistance needs and their current cases being developed and executed through the Foreign Military Sales process.

"Our intent was to re-establish a personal senior leader relationship between USASAC (U.S. Army Security Assistance Command) and these countries," Whitaker said. "We were also informed that this was the first visit by a USASAC commanding general to Kenya."

Much of the discussion with both countries centered around the support provided by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Section 1206, which was established in 2006 and has been regularly amended and extended. Section 1206 provides the Secretary of Defense the authority to train and equip foreign military forces for the specific purposes of counter-terrorism and stability operations. Both Kenyan and Ugandan representatives expressed appreciation for the equipment and training received, and both noted the important role it has played in helping them fight Somali militants. 

Both countries also emphasized how beneficial the military-to-military relationships were in each country, particularly in regards to training. In Kenya, the 50th Air Cavalry Battalion noted that Kenya is in its third iteration of Technical Assistance Field Team training for MD500 technicians, and that its train-the-trainer program will begin this month.

In Uganda, a visit to its Peace Support Operations Training Center, or PSOTC, Uganda People's Defense Force representatives emphasized the importance of the logistics training they received, and how the training professionalizes its army for security purposes. Current training numbers at the PSOTC include about 2,000 soldiers, with 1,800 set to deploy to areas in Somalia.

The issues of spare parts and long-term sustainment for equipment were also a topic for the militaries and their corresponding Offices of Security Cooperation. Additionally, equipment and training priorities, which for Foreign Military Sales are aligned through the Combatant Commands, were also discussed.

Turner was also honored at a lunch at the Kenyan Ranger Regiment Headquarters, which was founded in 2010. The U.S. Army supports the Kenyan Ranger program, while the U.K. supports its Special Operations Forces.

According to Whitaker, the engagements serve a professional purpose, but the results are more about strengthening the relationship.

"Both countries stressed how impressed they were that Maj. Gen. Turner was personally visiting their countries to ensure our understanding of their requirements, and our processes would continue to provide them with the support they need for maintaining security in their areas," Whitaker said.


A link to the article is available here.