Security Assistance Teams Train African Troops

Army Security Assistance Team members train troops in Africa

The U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization, or USASATMO as it is more commonly called, claims its motto as its mission, "Training the World, One Soldier at a Time." But this doesn't entirely explain the breadth of its role in providing security assistance to international partners throughout the world.

Training serves as the foundation for building partner capacity and strengthening global partnerships. This was recently demonstrated when USASATMO conducted a Warrior Leader Instructor Training Course, or WLITC, for the Namibian Defense Force, or NDF, in Namibia Africa during September 2011. The result of the training was not only a request for additional assistance, but also the beginning of an enduring relationship.

"It also demonstrates the importance of having U.S. based Soldiers available to support out-of-country training requirements for our friends and allies by conducting security assistance in conjunction with, or independent of Foreign Military Sales," said Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Gebal, USASATMO Team Leader for Namibia's WLITC.

USASATMO is located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and is an O6 commanded subordinate command of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, a two-star major subordinate command of Army Materiel Command, known as AMC, and AMC's lead for its Security Assistance Enterprise and Foreign Military Sales.

In the last year USASATMO formed an Engagement Branch for the express purpose of

conducting short notice, short term overseas training missions.

"The Engagement Branch is designed to assist partner nations in meeting their near-term objectives or to assist in developing desired capabilities," explained Mark Moen, USASATMO operations chief. "Engagement teams are capable of providing limited specialty services and assist in building host nation capacity across a broad spectrum of combat arms, combat support, leadership, and institutional building subjects."

Security assistance requests are normally coordinated through the requesting country's Security Cooperation Office, as was the case with the training requested for the NDF. The Security Cooperation Officer, or SCO, for Namibia made the initial request on behalf of the NDF.

"They first contacted us about a year ago," Gebal said. "Initially the plan was to have a WLC (Warrior Leader Course) with a class size of about 120 NDF soldiers," he said.

The initial requirement was developed jointly by the U.S. Security Cooperation Office in Namibia and the NDF and was based on recommendations made by a Requirement Survey Team from the Warrior Leaders Course School in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

"The recommendation was right for what they (NDF) wanted, but training 120 soldiers at one time for a WLC requires a large facility and an area for training," Gebal explained. "When we are training soldiers in their own countries, sometimes you have to make accommodations for their specific resources or unique situation," he added.

During Gebal's initial visit to Namibia to conduct a requirement survey for USASATMO, he received an e-mail stating that the training was cancelled due to "lack of space."

"The major issue was location -- their training base, Osona Base, had no space due to the training of a large number of new recruits," he explained.

But, because USASATMO's role also included advising, he continued with the mission and met with the NDF's G3 Operations Officer to discuss options. Gebal understood the need -- the NDF's goal was to develop a self-sustaining WLC.

"The NDF, like many other armies around the world, is officer-centric. Less responsibility is given to NCOs (noncommissioned officers) compared to the U.S. military, and most decisions have to get approval of a commander," Gebal said.

As with the United States and other countries throughout the world, resources for the military are limited, so decisions regarding personnel and materiel are weighed carefully. But Gebal also understood the challenge -- training such a large number at one time and place was not really feasible for the Namibians at that time.

Gebal proposed a solution that was more long term in reaching its goal, but achievable for everyone involved: develop a Warrior Leaders Instructor Training Course for the NDF to train a Cadre of Namibian soldiers as trainers allowing the NDF to conduct its own WLC in the future.

"While the SCO was not present, a representative of that office was and an agreement was made to conduct a WLITC for 15-20 NDF NCOs," Gebal said. "The NDF G3 was excited about the resolution and the wheels started turning quickly."

Six NCOs from the USASATMO Engagement Branch conducted a 19-day WLITC in the fall of 2011. The Course included all the subjects of a WLC and an Instructor Training Course. Subjects included drill and ceremony, map reading/land navigation and training management sessions. Throughout the course, "all the NDF soldiers took written exams and created/presented classes," Gebal noted.

The impact of the NDF training has both short- and long-term implications, according to Gebal and Moen.

"Ten of the top WLITC students will be primary instructors for a Namibian WLC of about 40 NDF soldiers, and the plan is to have six Engagement Branch Soldiers return for a one-week refresher for the 10 NDF instructors and to serve as assistant instructors during the course," Gebal explained. Gebal expects the follow-on mission to be implemented within a year.

The long term implications are more wide-reaching. By helping the Namibians establish a WLC, soldiers are building partner capacity, which will enable them and other partners to provide their own military support in their region of the world. Additionally, other African nations are also benefitting from the WLITC training. The country of Liberia has also conducted WLITC training using the USASATMO Engagement Branch.

Building relationships is an important aspect of USASATMO's work.

"With all the Soldiers we have interacted with, to include the NDF G3, our relationships have greatly improved. We have been able to engage in open conversations on all types of subjects, to include family," Gebal said.

USASATMO is not only "Training the World, One Soldier at a Time," it is also building relationships by being the first Americans that many foreign militaries' Soldiers initially encounter, and leaving a lasting impression of professionalism and expertise.

Show Full Article

Related Topics