‘Screaming Eagle’ Soldiers Oversee Demining
All Africa May 15, 2012
United States Africa Command
Kisangani — Years after the Great War of Africa ended, remnants of war are still scattered throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the aftermath of one of the deadliest conflicts worldwide since World War II.
In an effort to help the DRC reduce the number of land mines and unexploded ordnance, four soldiers from the 184th Ordnance Battalion (EOD), out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky provided a train-the-trainer course with 11 Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC) deminers to improve their explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) skills.
This engagement, which is part of the Humanitarian Mine Action program, took place April 6 through 27, 2012 at Camp Base in Kisangani, the capitol of the Orientale Province in the DRC.
The main objective of this exercise was to improve the FARDC deminers’ EOD skill sets to a point where they can set up a sustainable program in the DRC and to improve relations between the DRC and the United States, said Captain Charles A. Schnake, the exercise officer in charge.
“The HMA mission gives EOD technicians a chance to share lessons-learned with our allies and to sustain amiable relations. It’s also an opportunity for U.S. soldiers to experience a once in a lifetime mission to work in new environments. It was important to me because it gave me the chance to make a lasting impact in the sustainability of life-saving skill sets with our partners overseas,” Schnake, a Honolulu, Hawaii native said.
The first three days of the engagement focused on assessing the level of proficiency for the FARDC deminers. After their progress was evaluated, the Congolese soldiers were taught ordnance identification, explosives safety and theory, metal detector operations and demolitions.
Staff Sergeant Robert L. Hayslett, the head instructor and noncommissioned officer in charge of the mission, said he enjoyed seeing the DRC military eager to learn, broaden their skill set and accomplish the mission.
“The United States has the resources and the personnel with the experience available to teach these critical skills to these soldiers, it’s nice to see the U.S. has a vested interest in the area. My favorite part was the interaction with the foreign students, getting to interact with a foreign military.
This event is an opportunity that not a lot of soldiers have, and we can now take these partnering experiences back and use them abroad,” Hayslett, a Newville, Pa. native said.
During the 21-day program of instruction, both sides were able to take away important lessons from the experience.
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