The Tanzania People’s Defense Force (TPDF) put aside linguistic and cultural barriers to share military police best practices with U.S. service members and civilians, August 15 to September 2, 2011 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
« They were extremely perceptive, » said U.S. Army Major John Sherrill, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery Kansas Army National Guard mission commander. « I don’t think there was a big language barrier between us. Soldiers understand soldiers. »
The TPDF and U.S. team learned about each other’s processes in areas such as riot control, crime scene management, personnel, vehicle searches and entry control point operations.
« Both teams were exposed to demanding skills like Military Operations in Urban Terrain and Very Important Person Protection, » said U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Tom Laiter, military police with the 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery Kansas Army National Guard. « Both of those skills can’t be learned overnight. They require a lot of practice. »
According to Laiter, the TPDF focused mainly on team tasks that enhance teamwork.
« It was a good baseline, » said Laiter. « The TPDF built the team unity and fundamentals needed in deployed units. »
According to Sherrill and Laiter, the TPDF and the U.S. team shared many military skills between them, but also built a bond amongst soldiers. This bond was shared not only between TPDF soldiers but also with U.S. soldiers and civilians.
« All soldiers, especially infantry guys, are kindred spirits, » said Sherrill. « From conversations, they had deployments that were similar to ours. We bonded over the chaotic nature of our work. »
By Specialist Michelle C. Lawrence
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa