Burundi National Defence Force (BNDF) soldiers have completed a shared 10 weeks of pre-deployment training with US Marines and US Navy personnel assigned to Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP-MAGTF) Africa 13 near the 110 Brigade Compound in Buramata.
The purpose of the training was to enhance Burundian security capabilities for an upcoming Somalia deployment said Corporal Jeffery Haggard of the task force.
Since 2007 the BNDF has deployed forces in support of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“This training is important because there is terrorism worldwide and with this training I can face fighting against the war on terror in Africa, Burundi and maybe elsewhere. It’s important for me because I know how to protect my country better now,” a BNDF lieutenant said.
BNDF soldiers participated in the training, which covered medical care, infantry, marksmanship and combat engineering. Most participants have deployed in support of AMISOM in the past.
“They understand what it takes to fight for their brothers to the left and right of them. They learnt something new every day and we explained how effective it could be to them,” said Staff Sergeant Jake Kincaid, also a task force member.
“As terrorism is spreading in Africa we can join together as an African Union; that way we can fight the war on terror before it arrives here,” a BNDF adjutant-chef said.
The first skill taught to the soldiers was tactical combat casualty care.
“We showed them how effective tourniquets are on the battlefield and how to get them on. We also taught them to shoot back, get rid of the threat and then take care of the wounds,” Kincaid said.
Lessons shared also covered basic infantry skills. The soldiers were taught tactical movement, concealment and how to draw weapons. Following the infantry portion the marines taught basic marksmanship.
“I’m more accurate at marksmanship because of what I have learned from the Marines,” said the Burundian adjutant-chef, who has previously been deployed to Somalia for a year.
After marksmanship, the remainder of the course focused on combat engineer skills and urban breeching. Combat engineer training centred on route reconnaissance and basic demolitions.
“Urban breeching is taking smaller amounts of explosives and packing it on a door to blow it in. You’ll surprise the enemy with the explosives and then you’ll be able to effectively enter and clear a house, safely and swiftly,” Kincaid said.
On conclusion of the training each country shared what they learned from one another.
“Now I can do the combat engineer without being accompanied by someone else. We can now be together with other soldiers from elsewhere in Africa or elsewhere in the world and work as a team,” one of the BNDF soldiers said on completion of the pre-deployment training.
US service members found the exchange beneficial as well.
“It’s rewarding just to know we are here teaching these guys and giving them the knowledge we have so they can go and fight in Somalia,” said Haggard.
“I have a lot of pride in them and am proud to say I helped them,” said Kincaid.
SP-MAGTF Africa 13, based at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, strengthens US Marine Corps Forces Africa and US Africa Command’s ability to assist partner nations in addressing security challenges.
The about 150 marines and sailors in the task force conduct security force assistance, military-to-military engagements and are trained to provide support to crisis response.
In Burundi, pre-deployment training is in support of Combined Joint Force-Horn of Africa.