Senior leaders and civilian authorities from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States joined together to participate in a series of multinational disaster response and humanitarian assistance exercises as part of Natural Fire 2011 in Zanzibar, Tanzania September 12, 2011. The first event kicking off the exercise was the Academics seminar presented by U.S. Africa Command.
The objective of Natural Fire is to prepare Eastern African countries and U.S. forces for combined peace support, humanitarian civic assistance, and disaster relief type operations involving U.S., Burundi, Kenyan, Rwandan, Ugandan, and/or Tanzanian forces.
In the academics seminar and the exercise to follow, the six countries shared information to assist participants in preparing their military disaster and response plans. As the academics training progresses, countries will be introduced to subject matter experts in their fields to help nations develop a rapport and a reach back capability. Also, this seminar and exercise was designed to improve military interoperability between the regional armed forces and to develop the capacity of the regional armed forces to respond quickly and efficiently to complex security challenges.
« By combining the militaries of all these different African countries and the U.S., and by working together and training together we will learn to combat the five areas we will be challenged on in exercises, » said Major General S.S. Omar, chief of the Tanzania People’s Defense Force Navy and exercise director for Natural Fire.
« This exercise focuses on partnerships as they are important for improving working relationships. What we have set up and the purpose of this exercise is to work together to address and respond to such scenarios that might happen at any time in our areas, » said Omar.
According to Omar, understanding each others’ capabilities and proficiencies enhances the ability operate together to respond to complex emergencies.
The academics portion of NF11 began with opening remarks by the guest of honor, Job Masima, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defense and National Service, Tanzania.
« I am quite optimistic that this exercise clinic will encourage an enormous exchange of skill and staff interactions at all levels and will further foster cooperation between our Armed Forces and our partners, Masima said. « I wish to call upon all exercise academics participants in all capacities to undertake these exercises diligently and with the highest level of seriousness. »
Masima stated that Natural Fire 11 is important because of the undeniable fact that peace, security and political stability are prerequisites for accelerated socio-economic development in the East African Community.
The opening day of Natural Fire saw more than 100 senior leaders and civilian authorities participating. The exercise portion of Natural Fire will begin in a few days and will see over 350 participants from six countries participating. The last event in the Natural Fire lineup will include a Countering Violent Extremism seminar.
By Specialist Bradley Miller
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