QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK, Uganda—U.S. Army Soldiers conducted a Counter Illicit Trafficking Junior Leadership Course (CIT-JLC) with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Rangers focused on preventing extremist organizations from profiting from illicit activities, including poaching.
On October 11, 2019, the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion (CABN), currently assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), held a graduation ceremony for the 25 students who attended the course. Distinguished guests in attendance included Deborah R. Malac, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda; U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. James R. Kriesel, deputy commanding general, CJTF-HOA; and Sam Mwandha, executive director of UWA.
CIT-JLC is a four-week course that teaches the Rangers how to conduct small unit tactics and land navigation, respond to wildlife crimes and ethics, and medically treat a casualty, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Cecil Piazza, commander, 411th CABN, assigned to CJTF-HOA.
“CIT-JLC is civil affairs teams working with our Ugandan counterparts to teach them military-based techniques and tactics to prevent illegal poaching, specifically to their wild life,” said Piazza. “The CIT also allows us to maintain access throughout East Africa while our partners receive leadership development, organized structured training, advanced medical skills and individual movement tactics.”
Piazza went on to say that an additional goal of the CIT-JLC is to develop and validate Ranger instructors in order to continue the program, enhancing the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s capabilities for years to come. The CABN instructors invited five of their top students back to act as Ranger instructor-trainees and gave them the opportunity to teach two mock classes during the course. Eventually, the course will be taught by the UWA and completely facilitated within their organization.
Graduation attendees had a chance to witness firsthand the developing skills the graduates demonstrated during a culmination exercise. The exercise consisted of realistic scenario-based training events, assessing the Rangers’ ability to put into practice all the skills they had learned during the course.
During a commencement speech, Malac spoke about the many stories told about trainees who have gone through previous iterations of this course and who have put their knowledge to work.
“It is very important collectively that we work together, not just to catch the poachers and illicit traffickers, but to ensure that those we can bring to justice we hold accountable and put away,” said Malac. “We want to continue to build the message to everyone that poaching and illegal trafficking of animals and animal products is not something Uganda wants to see happen.”
According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority website, the UWA’s mission is to conserve, economically develop, and sustainably manage the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda in partnership with neighboring communities and other stakeholders for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community.
“We appreciate the support from the U.S. government,” said Mwandha. “You have helped us sharpen our ability to cut off the poaching, cut off the wildlife threats and help our staff survive longer because one of the challenges of being a Ranger is actually facing death every day.”