For several months, U.S. Army Soldiers from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), have trained alongside Kenya Defence Forces to improve Soldier skills while building partner capacity necessary to counter violent extremists and address other security and stability threats in the region.
The U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to C Company, 1-102nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), Task Force Iron Gray, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), most recently completed urban rifle marksmanship training with Rangers assigned to the Kenya Defence Forces, in Manda Bay, Kenya, Oct. 2, 2021.
“The training consisted of zeroing weapons and conducting the urban rifle marksmanship table of fire,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Alexander Poling, 1st Platoon squad leader, who instructed the integrated marksmanship training. “The table of fire consists of advanced marksmanship skills such as quickly engaging a target and walking while shooting targets. The goal of the training is to teach more advanced marksmanship tactics and develop a Soldier’s ability to move and shoot in combat with quick reaction time.”
In August, Ranger instructors with the Kenya Defence Forces integrated U.S. Army Soldiers from C Co. into their jungle warfare techniques training. The training consisted of jungle survivability, movement techniques in jungle terrain, how to mitigate wildlife and environmental hazards, and the tactics, techniques and procedures of violent extremist organizations in the area of operations.
“Over the course of a few days, the Kenya Defence Forces Ranger instructors took us into the jungle and taught us tactics on operating in their environment and how to best conduct patrols in this region,” Poling said.
In addition to the urban rifle marksmanship and jungle warfare training, C Co. Soldiers and Kenya Defence Forces conducted non-combat skills training. Soldiers with C Co.’s logistics team conducted wheeled mechanic sustainment training and armorer training, while company medics conducted multiple iterations of tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) training, and the company’s communication specialist instructed multiple classes on the basics of radio communications. The training was mutually beneficial for U.S. and Kenyan service members alike.
U.S. Army Capt. John Collias, company commander, said that because the Kenya Defence Forces are integrated into the defensive posture of Camp Simba, Kenya, having a good working relationship with our allies is key to mission success.
“Working with the Kenya Defence Forces on training events like these builds trust and interoperability,” Collias said. “Without a strong relationship with the Kenya Defence Forces, our mission set would be much more difficult.”
Training with allied partners not only improves the relationship between the U.S. military and Kenya Defence Forces, but also gives U.S. Soldiers a unique view into the culture of Kenya, Collias added. The partnership gives both sets of service members’ opportunities to increase leadership skills by training alongside allied country partners, sharing tactics, standard operating procedures, and cultures.
CJTF-HOA, operating from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, builds and strengthens partnerships to contribute to security and stability in East Africa. The task force’s efforts, as part of a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, aims to increase African partner nations’ capacity to maintain a stable environment, with an effective government that provides a degree of economic and social advancement to its citizens.