Tanzanian, US Soldiers Share More Than Military Skills

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (Aug. 29, 2011) - U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Tom Laiter, military police with the 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, acts as safety observer on the firing range, August 29, in Dar es Salaam. Laiter, originally from Garnett, Kansas., traveled to  Tanzania to share military police skills with the Tanzania People's Defense Force. The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, under the command of U.S Africa Command, conducts civil and non-combatant military operations in East Africa aimed to strengthen defense capability and protect U.S. and Coalition interests, promote regional stability and dissuade conflict. (U.S. Army photo by Major John Sherrill) CJTF-HOA Photo DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (Aug. 29, 2011) - U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Tom Laiter, military police with the 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, acts as safety observer on the firing range, August 29, in Dar es Salaam. Laiter, originally from Garnett, Kansas., traveled to Tanzania to share military police skills with the Tanzania People's Defense Force. The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, under the command of U.S Africa Command, conducts civil and non-combatant military operations in East Africa aimed to strengthen defense capability and protect U.S. and Coalition interests, promote regional stability and dissuade conflict. (U.S. Army photo by Major John Sherrill)
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (Aug. 18, 2011) - A Tanzania People's Defense Force instructor assists a soldier on the proper use of a baton during crowd control, August 18, in Dar es Salaam. A team of U.S. soldiers and civilians traveled to Tanzania to share military police skills with the TPDF. The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, under the command of U.S Africa Command, conducts civil and non-combatant military operations in East Africa aimed to strengthen defense capability and protect U.S. and Coalition interests, promote regional stability and dissuade conflict. (U.S. Army photo by Major John Sherrill) CJTF-HOA Photo DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (Aug. 18, 2011) - A Tanzania People's Defense Force instructor assists a soldier on the proper use of a baton during crowd control, August 18, in Dar es Salaam. A team of U.S. soldiers and civilians traveled to Tanzania to share military police skills with the TPDF. The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, under the command of U.S Africa Command, conducts civil and non-combatant military operations in East Africa aimed to strengthen defense capability and protect U.S. and Coalition interests, promote regional stability and dissuade conflict. (U.S. Army photo by Major John Sherrill)

How comfortable would one feel with taking concepts shared by foreign people with a language barrier and applying them to their profession?

The Tanzania People's Defense Force did just that. They put aside linguistic and cultural barriers to share military police best practices with U.S. service members and civilians, August 15 to September 2.

"They were extremely perceptive," said U.S. Army Major John Sherrill, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery Kansas Army National Guard mission commander. "I don't think there was a big language barrier between us. Soldiers understand soldiers."

The TPDF and U.S. team learned about each other's processes in areas such as riot control, crime scene management, personnel and vehicle searches and entry control point operations.

"Both teams were exposed to demanding skills like Military Operations in Urban Terrain and Very Important Person Protection," said U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Tom Laiter, military police with the 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery Kansas Army National Guard. "Both of those skills can't be learned overnight. They require a lot of practice."

According to Laiter, the TPDF focused mainly on team tasks that enhance teamwork.

"It was a good baseline," said Laiter. "The TPDF built the team unity and fundamentals needed in deployed units."

According to Sherrill and Laiter, the TPDF and the U.S. team shared many military skills between them, but also built a bond amongst soldiers. This bond was shared not only between TPDF soldiers but also with U.S. soldiers and civilians.

"All soldiers, especially infantry guys, are kindred spirits," said Sherrill. "From conversations, they had deployments that were similar to ours. We bonded over the chaotic nature of our work."

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