Rwandans and Americans do share the same positive "fighting spirit". When U.S. officials visit Kigali, empathy and deep respect are obvious. Nothing to do with the simple protocol. It must be stressed that Rwanda’s contribution to peacekeeping in Africa is enormous referred to the size of the country.
Approximately 10% of the Rwandan army, 3,000 men are engaged in UNAMID (*) the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur. The Rwandan peacekeeping forces are trained by the US commandos, special forces and U.S. airforce logistics experts based in Germany or in Travis, California. The "Rwanbatt 19" or the "14th battalion" of the Rwanda Defence Force, for example, were trained by American specialists before joining the UNAMID. Knowledge transfer occurs in the framework of the ACOTA (**), Africa Contingency Operations Training Assistance.
This initiative, managed and funded by the Department of State (DoS), is designed to improve African ability to respond quickly to crises by providing selected militaries with the training and equipment required to execute humanitarian or peace support operations. Several Rwandan military basis are fully dedicated to these programs. Some of which being developed in symbiosis the BPST-EA , the British Peace Support Team Eastern Africa based in Kenya.
Joint operations are conducted on military basis, such as Gako in the District of Bugesera, south of Kigali. Or at Gabiro military school , 130 km northeast of Kigali towards the Tanzanian border. At each site, civilian facilitators are cooperating with American NCOs, in order to offer the most updated training through dedicated "train the trainers" programs involving state of the art equipment. Like the digital simulation laboratory of Gako. The only center of its kind in Africa.
Over time the Rwandan military have developed internationally recognized expertise. They now train African specialists from Burundi, Somalia, Tanzania and Liberia. More than twenty African countries have already attended peacekeeping seminars organized by Kigali.
Cooperation between AFRICOM and Rwanda also covers civilian and military air traffic control (ATC). Air traffic controllers at Kigali International Airport have been trained by experts from the National Guard of North Carolina in order to make Rwanda a regional air hub providing world class ATC services. This high level cooperation is developed under the auspices of the 17th Air Force, "AFAFRICA", based in Ramstein, Germany.
The training of the Rwandan Marine Force take place on the military basis of Rubavu and Wahu Island on Lake Kivu with the operational support of the US Coast Guard’s Mobile Training and Education team. One of the main objectives being the fight against drug trafficking from the DRC.
In the field of war-medicine, Rwanda is developing partnerships with the Combined Joint Task – Horn of Africa (CJTHOA) based in Djibouti. Crisis management drills are also conducted regionally in East Africa like "Fire 10" operation simulating a pandemic disaster. The last exercise was conducted with 500 specialists from five EAC countries (Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda) under American supervision.
Last but not least, the future leaders of the Rwanda Defence Force are trained in the best institutions in the United States. Like the USMA at West Point or the National War College in Washington. By way of illustration, President son’s Ivan Cyomoro Kagame, , is member of the West Point Class of 2013. President Paul Kagame, visiting his son, last march, was greeted with full honors in the prestigious academy. In his speech, the president addressed the challenges of maintaining security and international relations amid the global threat of terrorism. "Security can no longer be perceived solely through sovereign state affairs," said Kagame. "What affects one nation has inevitable consequences on others."
(*) UNAMID has a budget of $ 1.5 billion in 2010 with a workforce of 22,000 men. With a participation of 3,000 men on Rwanda is ahead of Ethiopia has committed 2500 troops in the operation and that significant resources airborne.
(**) Over a period of six years, led ACOTA and trained nearly 45,000 African troops and 3,200 advisers keeping peace in the world.
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