Djiboutian Police Academy K-9 Obstacle Course Dedication
Alongside their Djiboutian counterparts, members of the U.S. Army's 418th Civil Affairs Battalion, Charlie Company and the Army National Guard 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment, helped construct the Djibouti National Police Academy K-9 obstacle course. They attended a ceremony to dedicate the obstacle course on October 11, 2010.
In the past month, the teams leveled the surface of the training area, welded fence gates and corner pole braces, then built and placed all the obstacles on the course. Fencing materials for the obstacles were donated by Caddell Construction Company of Djibouti.
According to members of the U.S. military and the Djiboutian Police, this project has been a rewarding mission, mutually beneficial to all participants involved. The team members developed and honed new skills in project management, communications, and negotiations. The project also generated a high level of goodwill between U.S. military forces and the Djiboutian police.
"I love working side-by-side with them," states Specialist Michelle McGinnis, who was the teams' project manager. "This project demonstrates the importance of utilizing the Civil Affairs teams in the project process. This mission helped to strengthen the trust and confidence of the Djiboutian Police and with police officers from several countries within Africa."
Colonel Abdillahi Farah, chief of the Djibouti National Police, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the efforts by his forces, the U.S. Military and the U.S. Embassy and presented Djibouti Police badges to all who worked on the project. He gave special recognition to project leads Specialist Michelle McGinnis and Sergeant 1st Class Michael Swisher.
Mike Lombardo, regional security officer, U.S. Embassy Djibouti, spoke at the ceremony stating, "This is my third African posting and the first time I've seen this level of cooperation between such a variety of organizations. Everything seemed to click, we had the right people on the ground at the right time to get this beneficial project completed."
Lombardo, who was a key coordinator for the project, cited the high degree of cooperation demonstrated between the Embassy, the Civil Affairs team and the Djibouti National Police as the reason this project was completed in such a timely and proficient manner.
The Djiboutian Police Academy owns nine dogs. They now have a facility to conduct agility training and continue to develop their relationship with their K-9 partners. After the ceremony, a trainer gave a short demonstration, having a police dog run through the course.
Representatives from the police agencies for Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Somalia, and members of the African Union also attended the dedication ceremony.