US Marines, sailors enhance Ugandan force capabilities


Uganda People’s Defence Force soldiers recently completed a 10-week joint engagement with U.S. Marines and Sailors assigned to Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa for a deployment to Somalia later this year.

Uganda provides troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, a regional peacekeeping mission in Somalia supported by the United Nations. The Marine task force supports Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s mission, which is to counter violent extremist organizations in Somalia and East Africa, by sharing best practices and building strong partnerships with the Ugandan soldiers.

Held at the Peace Support Operations Training Center-Singo in Kakola, Uganda, the Americans and Ugandans exchanged ideas to improve soldiers’ skills in marksmanship, vehicle maintenance, communication equipment and convoy operations.

U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Gordon Adams, assistant team leader for the exchange program, said the engagement was successful in increasing UPDF’s capabilities and helped Marines and Sailors develop stronger ties with them.
“I’m extremely proud of the Marines I’ve deployed with, who are not logisticians by trade, but assumed the mission with pride and have shown the incredible flexibility of the Marine Corps,” he said.

Adams said the recent engagement has shown improvement from a similar exchange held months ago.
“I could not be more satisfied,” the Deerfield, Mass., native said. “The improvements between the first and second companies we worked with were immense and I only wish we had another six months to continue to prepare our UPDF counterparts for the fight in Somalia.”

This engagement was also the second for U.S. Marine Sgt. Timothy McCoy, the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Africa training noncommissioned officer from Roanoke, Ind.
“Being able to come back and work with a second company of UPDF was a great opportunity to refine (the experience) from the first iteration and push the limits of what we are able to do in Uganda,” McCoy said.

Since January, the team has worked with more than 800 African service members in 12 countries. Since deploying in January, Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa has trained more than 700 African service members, including 310 UPDF soldiers.