Kentucky Guard trains Comorian Army and police

Story by Sgt. Alexa Becerra, Task Force Longrifles Public Affairs

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Soldiers from the Kentucky National Guard, currently deployed to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, conducted a week-long basic command and control and urban search and rescue seminar in the partner nation of Comoros. The purpose of this engagement was to enhance the Comorian military’s capabilities and capacity in order to improve security in East Africa. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

COMOROS — Kentucky National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Regiment, currently deployed in support of Combined Task Force-Horn of Africa, recently conducted a military-to-military engagement in the East African partner nation of Comoros.

The purpose of the engagement was to conduct a basic command and control (C2) and urban search and rescue seminar in order to enhance the Comorian military’s capabilities and capacity.

“This seminar will help me very much in my job,” said Staff Sgt. Daroueche Mbae, a policeman in the Comorian Gendarmerie. “The urban search and rescue and the triage portion will be very useful to me on a daily basis.”

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Lt. Col. Phil Honican, a native of Nicholasville, Ky. , and afirefighter, helps a member of the Comoros Gendarmerie with rope knots.Knowing the basics of rope knots is an essential component to rescuetraining, said Honican. The Gendarmerie act as first responders duringnatural disasters and emergencies in Comoros. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

The Gendarmerie, similar to State Police, is not only law enforcement but also act as first responders to natural disasters on the island nation. They work in conjunction with the Comorian Army.

Along with the planned portions of the seminar, there were also a couple of impromptu classes. As Lt. Col. Rob Larkin, commander of the 2-138th, and Lt. Col. Phil Honican were teaching the triage portion, they realized that the soldiers and policeman present weren’t familiar with basic first aid. Since they both are Firefighters and Paramedics in their civilian careers, they were also able to touch on portions of basic first aid.

“The experience from our civilian careers along with our military experience has helped enhanced our ability to connect with them, and helped us improvise where need be to make this seminar successful,” said Sgt. 1st Class Garry Petty, operations non-commissioned officer in charge for the 2-138th.

In addition, the Comorian Army has recently formed a public affairs section. The Soldiers of Task Force Longrifles were also able to share best practices, exchange experiences and mentor Sgt. Nidhaim Soilhe, the public affairs non-commissioned officer for the Comorian Army.

“To have this partnership and relationship with the Comorian military helps not only for the security of this country, but for the security of East Africa,” said Capt. Josh Grace, commander for this military-to-military engagement. “The tools and practices that we’ve shared will help them prosper and help both our nations against world threats.”

The Comorian Army has recently developed a new special force unit whose sole mission is to respond to incidents and natural disasters, along with the Gendarmerie.

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Lt. Col. Phil Honican receives a coin from a dignitary of the Comorian military. All Soldiers who participated in this engagement received a coin of appreciation from dignitaries of the Comorian military, to include the Chief of Staff of the Comorian National Army of Development. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

“These five days of sharing experiences and knowledge will be very helpful for our newborn special force unit,” said Lt. Said Yasser, the communications director for the Comorian National Army of Development. “Their missions will require them to use what we have learned this week on a daily basis.”

“In the future, we will be deploying with the East African Standby Forces and having the U.S. share their experiences from many years of protecting their people is very helpful to us,” said Yasser. “We would like the U.S. to share their urban operations tactics and react to contact techniques with us so we can strengthen our skills to be ready for combat.”

On graduation day, certificates were presented to all the Comorian service members who attended the seminar and each Soldier received a coin from the Comorian Army. After the graduation, the Comorian forces provided a lunch of local cuisine. The Chief of Staff of the Comorian Army was present and expressed his gratitude for the seminar, and said they look forward to continuing this unique partnership.

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