Djiboutian and U.S. Army soldiers participated in a language class led by Civil Affairs Team 4902 in Karabti San, Djibouti, February 1, 2012.
The class was part of an ongoing program between the Djiboutian Special Forces and CAT 4902, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, where soldiers of both nations learn and practice conversing in English, Afar and Somali.
« We are at the first phase, » said Djiboutian Special Forces Captain Arayta Houmed Ebile, unit commander. « We hope that my soldiers will be able to speak English in a few months time. »
The class covers words and phrases used in day-to-day conversation such as ‘good morning’ and ‘how are you,’ said U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Timothy Scally, CAT 4902 team sergeant.
Although both the U.S. and Djiboutian soldiers look forward to learning new languages, it’s not the only reason they attend the class.
« The program gives us a chance to bond and strengthen our relationship, » Scally said. « The Djiboutians are our allies and we want to build a lasting relationship with these soldiers. »
The class is just one of the many ways Djiboutian soldiers and the U.S. military interact, said Scally. The soldiers have patrolled together, worked together on various projects and shared meals every chance they get, he said.
The fact that the soldiers are from different countries has little bearing on their relationship, Scally added. « These are fellow soldiers, though they are not U.S. soldiers, » he said. « We live amongst them. We train with them. We interact with them. We have befriended each other. »
According to Ebile, who was the officiating officer for Scally’s promotion to sergeant 1st class in January, the feeling is mutual.
« Ever since we met the CA team, we have developed a good relationship, » Ebile said. « We are very grateful to have the CA team as friends. »
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Stephen Linch
CJTF-HOA Public Affairs