ARTA, Djibouti – Joint personnel and eight foreign liaison officers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa participated in weapons familiarization at the Djibouti Range Complex, Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 16, 2019.
The weapons qualification exchange gave the foreign liaison officers an insight on the Beretta M9 pistol and stance techniques used by U.S. military members.
“What we are doing today is a range subject matter expert exchange with our foreign liaison officers here in CJTF-HOA,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Alexander Jones, CJTF-HOA deputy director of training, readiness and exercises. “This has been several months in the works getting all the coordination done, so were glad to get everybody out here and give them an opportunity to see how we operate and [for us to see] how they operate.”
Foreign liaison officers from Kenya, Germany, Comoros, Spain, Italy, Burundi, Japan and Republic of Korea participated in the course. Everyone agreed understanding how to operate different nations’ weapons of choice is important for building cohesion during joint operations.
“It’s not only to know how to use our weapons, but also any time you can train with coalition or joint task force forces, you can build relationships, and you learn to work together,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Pruitt, Headquarters Headquarters Company 1-141 Infantry Battalion, Task Force Alamo, Texas National Guard, fly away security team operations noncommissioned officer, deployed to CJTF-HOA. “The more interaction that we have the better we work together, and the closer we become. We all have the same goals, but when we train together and we build relationships together it just shows our cohesiveness to achieve that goal.”
Events like these strengthen the ties between CJTF-HOA and its partner nations in the combined joint operations area.
“The utmost important thing is making sure they understand our functions,” said Jones, a U.S. Navy Reservist deployed from Naval Operational Support Center, Saufley Field, Pensacola, Florida. “They’re integrated, so when they go back home to their countries, they can take the knowledge they’ve learned here and increase that interoperability.”
“If we go down range and operate with Kenya, Burundi, Uganda or Comoros, you know that they understand our organizations, how we operate and that should heighten the effectiveness of all of our forces operating together,” Jones added.
Foreign liaison officers are the link between their nation’s military forces and CJTF-HOA.
“As a Kenya FLO, my main responsibility is doing liaison duties, liaison responsibilities between my government, that is the Kenya Defence Forces, and CJTF-HOA,” said Kenya army Lt. Col. Ndegwa Mburu, CJTF-HOA Kenya FLO. “I brief the commanding general on issues related to where we are currently deployed with other countries and any security issues that are happening within the country.”
In working together, CJTF-HOA along with partner nations can continue to develop, enhance and influence, conduct military engagements and security force assistance in support of security cooperation, and set the combined joint operations area, in order to promote regional stability.
“You will have your own weapon when you go to the theater, but you might lose it,” said Mburu. “It may run out of ammunition at any time, and you may even be forced to use the enemy’s weapon. If you are given the opportunity to practice with any weapon, it’s an advantage for you.”