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Marines, Ugandan Service Members Complete Joint Training

A U.S. explosive ordnance disposal technician conducts a breaching class with a soldier with the Ugandan People’s Defense Force in Camp Singo, Uganda, Dec. 2, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps)
A U.S. explosive ordnance disposal technician conducts a breaching class with a soldier with the Ugandan People’s Defense Force in Camp Singo, Uganda, Dec. 2, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps)

CAMP SINGO, Uganda -- U.S. Marines and Sailors with SPMAGTF Crisis Response-Africa completed a joint training engagement with service members of the Ugandan People’s Defense Force in Camp Singo, Uganda.

The engagement, which spanned from October to December, covered basic infantry tactics, civil engineering, demolitions, logistical support, Counter-Improvised Explosive Device operations, lifesaving techniques, and convoy operations, which the UPDF will use for upcoming deployments.

“The training we have been conducting helps bolster UPDF military capacity in preparation for the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM),” said 1st Lt. Brett St. John, a logistics team leader with SPMAGTF CR-AF. “Additionally, the training is beneficial because it improves interoperability between the U.S. and UPDF militaries and promotes regional stability through military-to-military engagements,” added the Twinsburg, Ohio, native.

The training left a lasting impression on both militaries, with friendships formed between the UPDF and U.S. service members.

“I've gained a better understanding of Ugandan and African cultural trends and norms, and have identified both similarities and differences between the UPDF and the U.S. Marines,” said St. John. “It's important to bear in mind that these similarities should be the focal points of cultivating interoperability, and these differences should be embraced in order for both parties to benefit and learn from each other.”

By conducting partner military training, the Marines and Sailors of SPMAGTF-CR-AF gain and share valuable teaching, training and small unit experiences while working with the UPDF.

"I know our Marines and Sailors came to Uganda in advisor roles to support the Ugandan forces and make them more capable," said Maj. Bryan Lieske, the officer-in-charge of the theater security cooperation teams in Uganda. "But what I don't think they appreciated, until later on in the mission, is exactly how much they would learn from the Ugandan soldiers. The motivation, attitude and willingness to learn demonstrated daily by UPDF soldiers is inspiring and has had an impact on the Marines and Sailors. In addition, the austere environment and living conditions have allowed our junior officers and noncommissioned officers to grow tremendously as small unit leaders."

First Lieutenant St. John also added that he would always remember the gracious hospitality and respectfulness of the people. “It should serve as a resounding example to all nations,” he said.

SPMAGTF-CR-AF conducts theater security cooperation engagements that strengthen U.S. Africa Command’s ability to help African nations address their regional security challenges.

"Through our continued engagement with forces from Uganda and other partner nations in Africa," Lieske said, "together we increase capabilities for the UPDF and partner nations in Africa to handle crises and address security concerns.”

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