U.S. Sailors, Kenyan Soldiers Partner During Humanitarian Mine Action Program
U.S. sailors assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) partnered with four Kenyan Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) instructors and more than 30 trainees during a Humanitarian Mine Action Program at the Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS) in Nairobi, Kenya, May 18, 2011.
The three-week program allowed service members the opportunity to share best practices on safely removing land mines and explosive remnants through several classes and basic practical examinations.
"It was a productive three weeks with the Kenyan EOD and combat engineers," said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Jon Maurus, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 (EODMU-11) officer in charge assigned to CJTF-HOA. "We had a great opportunity to engage our partners here and share from vast experiences on both sides, with a never-ending goal of strengthening relationships and building trust between our governments."
According to Maurus, EOD technicians within the U.S. military and Kenyan Army share many of the same characteristics, which made for an easy and productive visit.
"It's nice to work with such motivated and hard-working individuals who continuously seek to increase their knowledge base for self improvement," said Maurus.
According to U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Craig Jungers, EODMU-11 technician, one such soldier was Kenyan Army Major Edwin Teka.
"Major Teka was a standout student during the three-week program," said Jungers. "He was very involved during the classroom portion and did extremely well during practical exercises."
Teka, 41, is a combat engineer in Isiolo, Kenya. He was the course's highest-ranking trainee.
"The course was very good. It has really prepared us to identify munitions for disposal," said Teka. "I wish to take my training to a level higher in the future because our army is challenged with disposing of munitions."
Kenyan soldiers put their munitions disposal skills to the test in the final week of the program during a controlled detonation at the Kenyan Ministry of Defense (KMOD) Stony-Athi Range outside Nairobi.
"The detonation allowed the Kenyan instructors to tie everything together that the students had learned over the previous two weeks into an actual real-life demolition operation," said Maurus. "It was a great success in that the students finally got to see their hard work in action."
The KMOD hosted a graduation ceremony to conclude the program. Lieutenant Colonel F.K. Kiriago, HPSS commandant, addressed the trainees and CJTF-HOA members.
"I know the time was short, but you made sure to complete the syllabus as required," said Kiriago to the trainees. "Make use of this knowledge in a positive way and put it to practice."
To CJTF-HOA members, "We sincerely thank the U.S. government for the instructors from HOA," said Kiriago. "This was a great gesture to allow you to come and partner in what we're doing."
After weeks of instruction and practice the Kenyan soldiers are ready to protect against ordnance threats, according to Maurus.
"I look forward to our next engagement not only to learn and share more, but to see our friends again," said Maurus.