Delegates from 37 African nations and Soldiers from U.S. Army Africa visited Fort Benning May 13 as part of the 2010 African Land Forces Summit.
The three-day conference, held predominately in Chantilly, Va., brought commanders from land forces throughout the African continent together to address the concerns and challenges of African leaders, and demonstrate how the U.S. Army prepares Soldiers for the 21st century battlefield.
“We’re a brand new Army service component command,” said LTC David Konop, Public Affairs Officer for U.S. Army Africa. “So we’re listening to these commanders to learn about their issues and seeing how we can work with them.”
Throughout the summit, delegates discussed adapting and transforming to reach desired outcomes, which is why Fort Benning was chosen as the off-site location, said MG William Garrett III, commanding general of U.S. Army Africa.
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“We’re not here to shoot things, or to blow things up, or to ride around in the back of a Stryker — although we’re going to do all of that and see all of that — the real reason we’re here is to see transformation in action,” he said.
To witness that transformation, delegates visited basic training, where they watched buddy team live fire exercises at the Malone Range Complex, as well as room clearing and the use of force with hostile and non-hostile targets at the Wilson Village Military Operation Urban Terrain site.
“The United States Army has changed the way they do their business,” said COL Henry Odillo of the Malawi Defense Force. “The training is more realistic, which is key when you think of preparing Soldiers.”
During the visit, the delegates also attended a Rangers in Action demonstration, received a Stryker vehicle overview, learned about modern Army combatives and leader development, and received a guided tour of the National Infantry Museum.
“It has been a worthwhile and rewarding experience for the delegates,” Odillo said. “It has offered us all an opportunity to learn from each other and I think we’re going back home with a deep understanding of how the U.S. Army is able to assist our various countries.”