Press ReleaseOct. 16, 2009
Natural Fire 10 - Joint Public Affairs Office
Opening ceremony in Northern Uganda marks start to humanitarian exercise
KITGUM, Uganda – The partnership exercise named Natural Fire 10, a multinational military exercise involving five East African partner states - plus partners from the U.S. military - began Oct. 16 in northern Uganda.
Soldiers from Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States opened the exercise with a ceremony attended by senior military officials from each country.
The 10-day exercise focuses on humanitarian and civic assistance, disaster relief and regional security.
“The main objective of the exercise is to test the ability of our partner militaries to work together and with other organizations,” said Capt. Ronald Kakurungu, a spokesman for the Ugandan People’s Defense Force, who are hosting this year’s exercise. “Being able to work together improves our capability to respond to complex humanitarian emergencies and further demonstrate EAC members can act as one when facing challenges.”
Roughly 550 U.S. personnel and 133 military personnel from each of the five partner nations are taking part. All together, there will be nearly 1,220 participants. Three training opportunities are going on simultaneously. Medical, dental and engineering projects will assist the local community and security partnership exercises near Kitgum which will increase the soldiers’ ability to work together.
Meanwhile, in Kampala and Entebbe, military leaders and senior civilian officials from participating countries will take part in a tabletop exercise – facing simulated emergencies in Africa. This type of exercise will sharpen senior and mid-level military leaders’ skills in their response to disasters, to offer humanitarian assistance and to prepare for pandemic situations.
Medical care will include direct care by a doctor or dentist, to include optometry and pharmacy services as well as dental extractions. Education classes on HIV/AIDS, nutrition and hygiene will also be provided. The care will be provided at Pajimo Health Center, Palabek Health Center, Mucwini Health Center and Kitgum Government Hospital.
Engineers will work together to make improvements at a high school, primary school and a hospital. Improvements include repairing or replacing roofs, window panes and doors, repairing walls, installing handicap ramps and placing a concrete floor. Engineer projects will be conducted at the Kitgum High School, Mucwini Primary School and Kitgum Government Hospital.
Natural Fire 10 closes with a ceremony Oct. 25, when all participants will return to their countries.
“These opportunities place the EAC people face-to-face with both U.S. and partner nations displaying compassion and interest in their well-being,” Kakurungu said.
Natural Fire was first held in Kenya in 1998, with U.S. partnership. Since, then it has been held every two years in East Africa. In 2000, it grew to include Tanzania and Uganda, as well as the U.S. and Kenya – a significant step for the EAC alliance. In 2006, Natural Fire expanded to include field training and humanitarian assistance. Since then, the exercise has grown to feature five partner states, with the addition of soldiers from Burundi.
In September 2009, these five EAC partners completed their first exercise together, Mlima Kilimanjaro 2009, in Tanzania. Following Natural Fire 10, in November, the EAC partners will jointly participate in an exercise in Djibouti.
U.S. Army Africa, (USARAF), the land component of U.S. Africa Command, is co-leading the exercise with the Ugandan military. USARAF is committed to partnering African nations to enhance mutual understanding and increase stability, security and peace on the continent. That includes are strong cooperation with the EAC members. USARAF’s role supports U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech encouraging partnership among African countries with the US.
"African prosperity can expand America’s. Africa’s health and security can contribute to the world’s....so I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – as partners with America on behalf of the future that we want for all our children" - U.S. President Barack Obama, Ghana, July 2009.
Cleared for public release.
Photo by Air Force Sgt. Samara Scott
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