U.S. Marines and Ugandan soldiers fortify engineering skills


U.S. Marines and Uganda People’s Defense Force soldiers completed an exercise to refine the UPDF’s civil engineering proficiency Nov. 23, 2015.

Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa assisted their Ugandan counterparts during a vertical engineering exercise in Camp Singo, Uganda.

The UPDF is improving their engineering skill set as they build up their forward-operating bases and defense positions while they continue their role in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), said U.S. Marine Sgt. Sean O’Hair, a combat engineer with the team.

The Marine engineers covered topics from site reconnaissance and survivability positions, to horizontal and vertical engineering, which includes building roads, flight lines and permanent structures. The soldiers were responsible for constructing a wood-framed building, a permanent structure that could possibly serve as a command post or housing. They also got a chance to display their concrete and masonry skills as part of the practical application.
“It is one thing to sit in a classroom but it is another thing to get hands-on training,” O’Hair said. “So we taught it, they learned it, and now it’s time to put it in action and see what they can do with it.”

The UPDF engineer soldiers have a vast area of responsibilities when they are sent to Somalia, according to Ugandan Lance Cpl. Andrew Omongoje, a student and electrician in the UPDF engineering brigade.

The students in the course come from different units within the UPDF and bring different backgrounds and experiences to the class.

Though the students were new to this type of engineering, O’Hair said getting to the fundamentals and working as a team will benefit the soldiers when they deploy to Somalia.
“We gave them basic knowledge of civil engineering,” O’Hair said. “We refreshed a few concepts and taught a few. We worked together to form what we have in this practical application.”

The Marines and Ugandans are also working on survivability positions, expanding on ways to fortify and maintain a strong defensive position. Covering a variety of skills ensures the soldiers are ready for any challenge they may face.
“We all hope when the course is finished, with the knowledge we have attained, the soldiers will go out and distribute it to their soldiers back in their units,” said Omongoje.

The three Marine combat engineers with the team have also assisted in improvised explosive device awareness and familiarity training while working with the UPDF. The Marines and sailors are currently training with eight different logistics-related military occupational specialties. A final exercise is scheduled for mid-December where all the different specialties will work together towards a common goal.