Deep in one of the largest countries in East Africa, U.S. Army Soldiers have been training Tanzanian game wardens in Counter Illicit Trafficking (CIT) operations in order to deter poachers and prevent extremist organizations from profiting from illicit activities.
The Soldiers, with the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), conducted CIT training for Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) game wardens, from May to July, 2018.
The United Republic of Tanzania, is rich in culture and wildlife such as elephants, giraffes, hippopotamus, and lions. Approximately 38 percent of its land is reserved for conservation, the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) said.
Illicit trafficking continues to be a transnational problem throughout the CJTF-HOA area of operations. Enhancing the capabilities of TAWA will disrupt the flow of illicit trade and, in doing so, the funding of violent extremist organizations (VEOs), said U.S. Army Major Kevin Jusza.
“This illegal poaching and hunting funds transnational criminal activity, a lot of these funds have been engaged with transnational terrorist activity; in Kenya for example, Al Shabaab often cross the border from Somalia into Kenya to engage in poaching to fund their operations.” said Jusza.
The training covered a variety of topics such as medical skills, land navigation, ethics and human rights, weapons, patrolling, mission planning, information management and reporting, air to ground reconnaissance, and apprehension. These courses augment the ability to recognize and intercept illicit alleged poachers and illicit traffickers.
As of the end of July 2018, the Soldiers have completed three CIT courses and graduated more than seventy game wardens. These wardens use their training daily to accomplish their mission to prevent and deter illicit trafficking and poaching activities. U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Smith feels proud that he has had such an impact on the TAWA game wardens.
“A student we trained last cycle approached me and told me about a mission last month where his team came upon a poaching camp using tactics we taught them to clear and process the site,” said Smith, “I was extremely proud, and for me to be able have a part in their instruction is a huge joy.”
Studies have been conducted and have included evidence that illegally trafficked goods from Tanzania have been distributed throughout the world to include parts of Asia, South America, and North America. According to a U.S. Department of State Report from May 2017, “illicit trafficking remains the lifeblood of the numerous bad actors and networks, creating vulnerabilities for nations.”
U.S. Africa Command is dedicated to assisting partner nations in their efforts to provide stability and security to their people. This training enables Tanzania to better secure and protect its natural resources and wildlife from transnational threats and extremist organizations.