“Ten days ago, I stood here and welcomed everyone to Natural Fire 10,” Garrett said.
Approximately 550 US personnel and 650 troops from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States took part in Natural Fire 10, where the emphasis on the exercise was improving interoperability and building partner capacity to respond to complex humanitarian emergencies. The exercise included a table-top exercise, humanitarian and civic assistance projects, and a field training exercise.
During the table top exercise, military and civic leaders from the five partner nations came together in Kampala and Entebbe to work through a simulated natural disaster, a pandemic flu outbreak in Uganda, and other humanitarian crises requiring regional and international support.
“This is a good forum to share our national plans and harmonize our actions,” said Dr. Winyi Kaboyo, assistant commissioner to the Uganda Ministry of Health and secretary to the Uganda National Task Force for Influenza.
“The crucial point, which was very exciting, was bringing together the military to work with civil authorities,” said Kaboyo. “We have had interactions in the past, during outbreaks like Cholera and Ebola, but they were confined to addressing public health.”
In Kitgum, US military medical professionals worked side-by-side with their African partner nations to provide medical and dental care to more than 11 000 Uganda citizens at four clinics and hospitals in the surrounding communities. In addition, US Navy Seabees completed construction projects on two schools and a hospital.
Also in Kitgum, US Marines and soldiers from the partner nations went through a challenging field training exercise, which focused on skills needed during peacekeeping operations, where they learned from each other’s vast experience.
According to Garrett, each and every person participating in the exercise contributed to its success, but the greater accomplishment is the spirit of cooperation, partnership and friendship that developed during the exercise.
“US Army Africa’s commitment to our East African partners does not end with this closing ceremony,” Garrett said. “This is not the conclusion, but rather the continuation of what I hope is a long and enduring relationship.”