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97565. U.S. Special Forces Train African Peacekeepers

By Linda D. Kozaryn

American Forces Press Service

	WASHINGTON -- Civil war produces devastation and refugees. 
Drought produces famine and disease. When crises arise, grief-stricken 
faces appear on television news broadcasts, pleading for help. 

	U.S. special forces are now training African military forces to 
respond within 30 days when such regional humanitarian disasters 
strike. The goal of the African Crisis Response Initiative is to 
create effective, rapidly deployable units that can operate together 
in a humanitarian or peacekeeping operation, Ambassador Marshall F. 
McCallie said at a Pentagon press briefing, July 29. 

	McCallie is the State Department's special coordinator for the 
initiative. He stressed the program is a training initiative. "We are 
not trying to create an army in Africa," he said. To ensure no nation 
feels threatened, participating countries are encouraged to invite 
neighboring nations to observe the training.

	The program began in Senegal and Uganda in late July with the 
arrival of about 120 U.S. troops of the 3rd Special Forces Group and 
XVIII Airborne Corps, both of Fort Bragg, N.C.; U.S. Army Europe; and 
U.S. Special Operations Command. The American teams started 60-day 
training programs Aug. 1 for about 750 host nation soldiers in each 
country. Later this year, U.S. teams are scheduled to train similar 
forces in Malawi, Ethiopia and Mali. 

	The U.S. training teams use peacekeeping doctrine based on 
international standards, according to Col. David E. McCracken, 
commander, 3rd Special Forces Group. Training each battalion will cost 
the United States about $3 million, including $1 million in mainly 
nonlethal U.S. equipment, primarily communications gear such as hand-
held radios, he said. The United States is also providing mine 
detectors, ammunition for training exercises and water purification 

	U.S. officials conducted a pilot program to assess host nation 
troops' operational needs. In most of the countries, soldiers did not 
have individual support gear, McCracken said. 

	"They had uniforms. Their weapons were in pretty doggone good 
shape -- good soldier discipline, good maintenance, but they don't 
have canteens [or backpacks] because they operate inside their 
borders, and private citizens carry [food and] water to them," he 

	The plan calls for the peacekeeping battalions to be able to 
deploy and patrol, so the United States is providing each soldier with 
an extra uniform, complete with boots and headgear, as well as basic 
load-bearing equipment, including a canteen and a backpack, McCracken 

	Eye exams are the first step in the training process, McCracken 
said. In one instance, about 70 of 300 soldiers tested needed glasses. 
Glasses will be provided as part of the security systems package, he 
said. Being able to see well will help build soldiers' confidence 
during training and will contribute to unit discipline, McCracken 

	Along with teaching basic soldier skills, U.S. trainers are 
emphasizing force protection, human rights, care of refugees, and 
dealing with humanitarian organizations and civilian governments. A 
final exercise involves setting up a civil-military operations center 
that incorporates international organizations, nongovernmental and 
private volunteer groups, and the media.

	McCracken said the program will prepare the battalions adequately 
for deployment -- U.S. forces preparing for Bosnia, for example, spent 
up to six weeks training in similar tasks, conditions and standards. 
"We really think that 60-day time frame is very effective, because 
these units are already existing organizations," he said.

	U.S. officials are working with the Organization of African Unity 
and the United Nations as well as individual African nations, the 
State Department's McCallie said. They are also working closely with 
Great Britain and France to create a common peacekeeping training 
initiative, leading to opportunities for joint training and joint 
exercises, he said.

	"We also recognize that many other countries can contribute 
constructively to this effort, so we are inviting a much broader level 
of participation," McCallie said. "We are asking other countries to 
join us in this initiative, both in Africa and outside of Africa." 
Each country that receives training retains the right to decide 
whether to respond to a regional call or a call from the Organization 
of African Unity or United Nations, he added.