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Massachusetts National Guard Engineers Train in Kenya
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs
NAIROBI, Kenya - While most New Englanders were shoveling and plowing their way out of their snow-blanketed states this February, a group of engineers from the Massachusetts Army National Guard were doing a different kind of digging, in Kenya.
Eight members of the 379th Engineer Company of the 101st Engineer Battalion, performed joint training with their State Partnership Program counterparts in the Kenyan Defense Forces in Thika Garrison in Nairobi, Kenya from Jan. 14 – Feb. 24, 2017 as part of Operation Kenyan Victory.
“While working with the KDF over the past six weeks we have learned how to integrate ourselves so we act as one streamlined unit working toward our objective,” said 1st Lt. Zachary Crossen, the officer-in-charge of one of the Kenyan Victory rotations. “The KDF has shown us their methods and we have shown them ours. By training together, everyone develops a wider skill set and enhances our problem-solving abilities.”
The training not only included working with their KDF counterparts on heavy equipment like bulldozers, forklifts, backhoes, and excavators, it also left Thika Garrison with some lasting improvements. They completed a perimeter road repair project that will improve the operations at the Thika Garrison for years to come.
“Until recently the KDF did not possess many of the new pieces of equipment that we have in our motor pools. For them to have access to this equipment now means they are going to be more efficient in their engineer operations. For us to be able to train together through this State Partnership Program means everyone benefits,” said Crossen.
Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard along with key leaders visited Kenya to see the engineers in action. “Seeing the Kenyan State Partnership develop over the last few years has been a rewarding experience,” said Keefe. “By fostering and supporting this partnership, we can deepen the mutual trust and respect shared by Kenya and work together to solve key issues and problems in the region,” said Keefe.
The importance of building partnerships across Africa is more relevant than ever in light of the growth of regional and transnational violent extremist organizations such as Al Shabab and Boko Haram. The Massachusetts National Guard has been training the KDF to mitigate terrorist threats in the region.
The State Partnership Program is a Department of Defense security cooperation program managed by the National Guard Bureau and executed by the 54 states and territories to further national interests through supporting geographic Combatant Commands and the Department of State’s theater and country objectives. Massachusetts and Kenya partnered together in 2015. Massachusetts has been in a successful State Partnership Program with Paraguay since 2001.
Command Sergeant Major
Carlos Ramos Rivera
State Command Sergeant Major
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