For Sergeant 1st Class Grady Hyatt, training combat skills to African partner nation soldiers is a full time job. Hyatt works as a military mentor for U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) with the U.S. Department of State’s African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program known as ACOTA.
Recently, Hyatt assisted in training Sierra Leone soldiers in a series of combat skills over a two-week period at the Peace Mission Training Center and the Armed Forces Training Center near Hastings, Sierra Leone. Hyatt’s instruction was focused on teaching Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces soldiers to become trainers. In the U.S. Army, it is known as train the trainer.
Hyatt, working with United Nations partners from the United Kingdom, instructed future trainers in various combat skills to include land navigation, map reading, first aid stations, basic rifle marksmanship, enhanced marksmanship, countering improvised explosive devices and mortar training.
He explained his role in training Sierra Leone soldiers.
« As a military mentor from USARAF, I embed myself with military counterparts and give them advice on how to perform their jobs. We work on techniques, tactics and procedures that will benefit the unit in the field, » Hyatt said.
Hyatt was the sole USARAF military representative. Normally, he is part of a two-man team; paired with 1st Lieutenant Salvatore Buzzurro. He said that working with Buzzurro is an opportunity to model leadership styles for our African partner soldiers.
« As a military mentor and noncommissioned officer, I emphasize that NCOs are essential as trainers, teachers and leaders. When 1st Lieutenant Buzzurro and I work together on theses mission our African counterparts see the working relationship between platoon leader and platoon sergeant, » Hyatt said.
Hyatt believes the ACOTA training improves and fosters positive viewpoints from host nation residents.
« Soldiers from African partner nations and the local populace have the opportunity to see U.S. soldiers working. When they see us working with dedication, professionalism and displaying goodwill it makes an indelible impression. In some cases, it changes some preconceived notions, » Hyatt said.
Hyatt is a former Marine infantryman and a Virginia National Guardsman assigned to 1st Battalion, 183rd Regimental Training Institute, currently on active duty with USARAF.
By Rich Bartell
U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs