Having a quick and effective means of communicating complex tasks is a critical component to any military force of sufficient size and complexity.
What began with runners conveying messages by foot to commanders in the field, and signalers waving flags to coordinate troop movements is now performed with sophisticated telecommunication systems and computers.
Aiding the military forces serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to effectively communicate is the U.S. Africa Command Data Sharing Network (ADSN). Recently, intelligence and communications personnel from the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and Djiboutian Armed Forces (FAD) visited Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa to work alongside U.S. intelligence and communication specialists here.
“I have learned so many things about the ADSN system since coming here,” said ENDF Lt. Araya Abrha. “How to install it, how to set it up and how to operate it. When I go to my country I will take what I learned here and use that knowledge to help AMISOM forces. This technology will support us in cooperating jointly in lots of different situations within the Horn of Africa, and to share vital information.”
The goal of the course was to better develop the communication interoperability between host nation security forces, the U.S. and other international partners to ultimately better combat violent extremist organizations, such as Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
“The ADSN is essentially enabling our African partner countries in East Africa to have and use a mobile unit that allows them to send classified and encrypted information back and forth,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Cox, ADSN course instructor. “It enables us to share information they need to conduct operations in Somalia.”
The training was split into two core portions: communications, which covered the technical aspects of setup and troubleshooting the system; and intelligence, which focused on using a fully functioning system to extract intelligence and communicate with partner AMISOM members.
“We have a shortage of this kind of technology so we are normally working without much experience, but being here to learn more about this technology helps us to grow our experience,” said ENDF Capt. Daniel Woldu. “It’s very interesting for us because it helps us with intelligence gathering, which helps us support our commanders in the field.”
The course is about sharing best practices, explained Cox. By showing the ENDF and FAD personnel how to utilize the ADSN system more effectively they will be able to build their own best practices on how best to use it for themselves.
“We want to enable all of our East African partners to be proficient with the system,” said Cox. “It allows us to have a classified and encrypted network to send information back and forth on. They can submit information requests to us and we can provide the best information possible when they conduct mission against Al-Shaabab.”
Having successfully completed the course, communication abilities across the ENDF and FAD area of operations will increase and improve, which will aid in their fight against terrorism.
“This training has helped us to understand the equipment and share communications with our partners,” said FAD 1st Lt. Abdoulaziz Ahmed. “Our enemy is one and the same and we must share feedback and information. This system helps us communicate and operate together.”