Mentorship promotes partnership between US, Uganda Soldiers
Kentucky Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion 138th Field Artillery Regiment service members partnered with civilians from the African Contingency Operations Training Assistance mission at Singo Peace Support Operations Training Center, Uganda, to provide mentorship to the Uganda People's Defense Force Oct. 1 - Nov. 9, 2012. The ACOTA mission helped strengthen the partnership between the United States military and the UPDF. It also demonstrated Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa's continued commitment to the ACOTA program, which is funded and managed by the U.S. Department of State and designed to improve African militaries' capabilities.
"The mentorship between the U.S. and Ugandan forces was conducted to prepare the UPDF's 11th Battle Group for their upcoming deployment to the African Union Mission in Somalia." said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Crump, 2/138th FAR brigade targeting non-commissioned officer. "They were very receptive to ACOTA's training and our mentorship, and I could tell they learned a lot. We saw them improve all around in their skills and leadership styles."
Crump, along with U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Scott Sheldon, 2/138th FAR military police, spent the six weeks training and working with the UPDF. Service members from Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Belgium also participated.
Skills covered included enhanced marksmanship skills, convoy operations, security patrols, defending a position, deliberate attack and entering- and clearing-room procedures.
"They were very open to our suggestions and responded positively to the training they received," said Crump. "They appeared eager to show their ability to execute with 110% effort. While working one-on-one, they gave me full attention and were very interested in how to apply the training to different scenarios."
Along with mentorship practices, the service members shared stories and got an understanding for each other's culture.
"During downtime we had conversations on the differences in culture between the U.S. and Uganda and also about military and personal experiences," said Crump. "The Ugandans were great service members to work alongside. It was a unique experience and they learned a lot from us, and in turn, we learned a lot from them. While we worked together great, we also became great friends."
Sheldon and Crump were there to support the mission of ACOTA, which facilitates the deployments of about 20 African battalions across the continent annually and helps them build peacekeeping training capacity.
"This particular team of mentors, Crump and Sheldon, helped better prepare the UPDF for their future deployments in support of AMISOM," said U.S. Army Maj. Michael Woodson, 2/138th FAR military-to-military coordinator. "I have all the confidence in the world that our team greatly contributed to the ACOTA program, which enhanced the overall capabilities of the UPDF force."
Since 1997, the U.S. has provided training and non-lethal equipment through the ACOTA program to more than 215,000 peacekeepers from African partner militaries including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.