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DoD News Briefing: Briefing on African Crisis Response Initiative

Presenter: Briefing on African Crisis Response Initiative
July 31, 1997

A PARTICIPANT: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to welcome Ambassador Marshall Fletcher McCallie, the Special Coordinator for the African Crisis Response Initiative, to the Pentagon today. He is being joined by Colonel David E. McCracken, who is the Commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This is the unit that is engaged currently in conducting peacekeeping humanitarian relief training in Senegal and Uganda and which will be moving on to Malawi, Ethiopia and Mali later this year.

The Ambassador has a brief opening statement and then he'll turn it over to Colonel McCracken, who will brief you on the African Crisis Response Initiative and the training that his unit is giving the Africans that are involved with this particular initiative.

Ambassador McCallie?

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: I'm delighted to be with you.

As you know, 120 U.S. peacekeeping trainers traveled to Senegal and to Uganda on July 21st to begin a peacekeeping training partnership with those two countries. They traveled to Africa as part of the African Peacekeeping Response Initiative and I would like to speak with you today on the record to place this initiative in context and particularly in a broad international context and to answer any questions that you might have after Colonel McCracken has given his presentation.

Let me stress that this is a training initiative. We are not trying to create an army in Africa.

Colonel David McCracken, who is commander of our 3rd Special Forces Group, does much of our training in Africa and he is present and is prepared to answer any questions you have on the duration and the nature of the training. He really is the expert.

ACR is a training initiative. It's intended to work cooperatively with African states to create highly effective and rapidly deployable peacekeeping units which can operate together in either a humanitarian operation or in a standard peacekeeping operation.

Our emphasis, as Colonel McCracken will explain, is to provide training with a common peacekeeping doctrine, based on international standards, and to provide common communications equipment which will enable trained units from any part of the African continent to work together in a peacekeeping operation.

While the United States has agreed to provide peacekeeping training with several of our African partners in the context of ACRI, we are also working closely with Great Britain and France to blend our initiatives into a common peacekeeping training initiative. We hope this initiative will lead to opportunities for joint training and joint exercises.

The joint initiative will be based upon the principles of building long-term capacity enhancement, legitimacy, openness and transparency.

Britain and the United States and France are all committed to work closely together with the Organization of African Unity and with the United Nations, as well as with our many African partners.

We also recognize that many other countries can contribute constructively to this effort, so we are inviting a much broader level of participation. We are really asking other countries to join us in this initiative, both in Africa and outside of Africa.

We believe it would be desirable for the international community to create an African peacekeeping support group or perhaps a Friends of Africa peacekeeping group which could give greater focus to all of our efforts together. Clearly we would like to draw on the past peacekeeping experience of our African partners, many of whom have done peacekeeping.

The unique aspect of this initiative, both our own and the joint initiative with Britain and France, is that we would like to use a common peacekeeping doctrine, build a capacity for common communications, so that when units are called into peacekeeping operations they will be able to work easily and effectively together.

Colonel McCracken?

COLONEL McCRACKEN: As Ambassador McCallie indicated, I'm really here to talk about the military training component of this initiative and so I've got some charts and I've got a couple of real experts because they just came back in from actually doing the concept tests and I'll introduce them as we go through this.

How are we going to do this military training?

We want to do the lowest cost with the highest leverage and so we build on this existing capacity and so when I went as the pilot team chief to the countries and did some assessments of were they capable or near capable because that was the goal, in fact in every country they were at least near capable, so in our short 60-day training program we truly believe we can achieve the standard, but we'll be measuring that in a combined fashion with the host nations with which we work, providing minimum equipment, and each country will get about a million dollars worth of equipment, and maximum training, and the training cost is slightly under two million per battalion.

As the Ambassador said, I command the 3rd Group. We have a responsibility for the U.S. interests in about 40 countries in Africa, so all those countries, the 3rd Group will be the base for the training but in those countries that belong to the United States Central Command Air responsibility, which is from Egypt all the way around the Red Sea, around the horn and down to Kenya, 5th Special Forces Group will conduct the training, using the same training handbook, et cetera.

I would want to point out that it's not just special forces soldiers, though. We think it's very important that we help establish a logistics capacity in each of these countries' battalions, so some of them do exist, some of them exist more weakly, so we've solicited and received augmentation from about 10 combat support soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps for each country, as well as a PSYOPS (Psycological Operations) and civil affairs officer from our United States Army Special Operations Command that will go to each country as well.

We are raising them to a common peacekeeping standard and, again, we've built a training handbook, I'll talk a little bit more about that in one of the upcoming charts, the idea being at the end of this training there will be an initial capability and the goal is for the battalions that we've worked with to be ready to be called up within 30 days if their country's leaders decide that they're going to participate in some peacekeeping operation.

It's also clear to me that the immediate impact will come from the opportunity for them to participate in the humanitarian assistance action within their own borders because clearly there will be some of that, very important training components, that I'll talk about also.

And, of course, inter-operability, all to a common training standard and all with common communications gear, which is principally what we're buying with that $1 million.

Going into what kind of equipment. All the equipment that we're providing is non-lethal equipment. Now, I'll tell you straight away, non-lethal, that does include, though, ammunition and we are providing training ammunition for the soldiers and that's designed to be a portion of our training package that's for force protection of the units.

In every one of these countries that we've been to, they have participated within the past three to five years in an either peacekeeping or humanitarian relief operation in Africa and in every discussion during the pilot team with their leaders, they have been in some kind of a fire fight, even if it was just acts of banditry. Some cases, some of the non-belligerents became belligerents. And so we think it's very important to include some force protection training.

Part of the reason for that is we are not providing any vehicles and in each case the countries solicited some armored vehicles, armored personnel carriers. It's too expensive and we think that's outside the boundaries of the initiative as we know it now.

I mentioned the communications gear. It's about a half million dollars worth of communications gear, principally Motorola hand-held radios. We're buying over 500 of those for each battalion, as well as some repeater systems so they can cover a broader range of operations, some high frequency radios to do upper level command and control and even a couple of satellite communications so they could come back to a central authority.

We're also providing some mine detectors because in the peacekeeping operations frequently the bad guys use mines and so that's a force protection item. And water purification. And our thoughts there were several of the countries operate within their own borders quite effectively now, but if we want them to deploy, since it's a deployment type set of training, you also want to have pure, safe water for the soldiers to drink and that would be particularly important in a humanitarian assistance operation where you might be in or around disease.

Soldier needs is almost enough to make me smile, but in each of the countries, less one, the soldiers that we assessed truly did not have canteens. Now, they had uniforms, they had equipment. Quite frankly, their weapons were in pretty doggone good shape, good soldier discipline, good maintenance, but they don't have canteens because generally speaking they operate inside their borders and private citizens carry water to them.

Well, if we're going to have them deploy, we have to have the capability to do patrolling, so we're going to provide them basic load-bearing equipment with a canteen, a backpack, because in the same way they didn't carry backpacks because they have their own host nation folks who prepare food and carry it to them. So we think that's an important thing.

And also we're going to provide one uniform complete from boots to headgear because we know during the training there will be a tear up of uniforms.

General, if I could get you to change the charts?

And this will be my opportunity, then, to first introduce Major Hagar. He's over here on my left. And I want to introduce him because he's the man who literally created the 60-day program of instruction that has been endorsed by the United Nations, Department of Peacekeeping Operations. We have a full-page endorsement.

Major Hagar together with one of our warrant officers and a master sergeant from the 5th Group went to the U.N. and went through this rather exhaustive document, it's about this thick. We have a copy and we're going to provide it to the DoD Public Affairs folks and so you're welcome to see it, but the key is that the U.N. DPKO training unit endorsed these training standards and so they're adaptable to all the countries.

That's going to be a multi-echelon approach to training. We'll do things simultaneously. There will be individual tasks as well as squad, platoon, up to company maneuver. These functional platoons will do logistics, will do concurrent training. The leaders will have concurrent training and staff coordination.

These two gentlemen also are here because they did the concept test. As we found out in our concept test in Mali, there is not the experience of having a staff like we have in our U.S. battalions. They pretty much have a battalion commander and a second in command. But in the training that they conducted, very effective staff procedures from the personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, civil-military operations, and communications and by the end of the exercise these gentlemen were functioning as a fully integrated staff. That was quite exciting because clearly our concept test was proven to be valid.

I mentioned that that's going to be standardized measurements and we'll do the measurements based upon an evaluation team consisting of half U.S. trainers and half host nation officers. This will be an opportunity for us to link our individual military education and training, the IMET program that you're familiar with from security assistance, because in each of these countries there's been an array of officers who have attended U.S. schools, so we know they understand the concept of task conditions and standards and the type of training that we do so we know we'll get an effective outcome in terms of our evaluation.

As I mentioned, it's adaptive. Each of the countries is going to have a slightly different task organization that's going to have certain fundamentals, three infantry companies at least, a combat support company, but for example in Senegal, they would like to take companies from different battalions and pull them together in a battalion task force type arrangement. In Uganda, they would like to take a numbered battalion that was organic in existence. Those are both credible ways to do business. We think each one will achieve our goal.

We're going to use the concept of train the trainer. We're sending about 60 U.S. trainers into the country and they're going to focus principally on between 125 and 150 host nation leaders down through squad leader level in this 600 to 800-man battalion. And, again, each host nation battalion will vary. On average, it will be about 750, which I think I put in the press release that I handed out.

And, of course, the training standard is going to be exportable and because it was endorsed by the United Nations, we know that it's at least a valid start point. I would also point out that the handbook that Major Hagar showed you clearly has the words draft on it and as we go through this, we're going to adjust those conditions because conditions vary in different parts of Africa.

I would also point out that a very effective multi-national exercise occurred in southern Africa sponsored by the Southern African Development Community. I got a chance to go see that. It was a world class event and, quite frankly, most of the things we're integrating in our training and our field training exercises are indicative of the same kinds of tasks that are going to be because U.N. peacekeeping tasks are pretty much common.

I would then want to point out that on this chart here to my left, this snazzy multi-color chart, it kind of brings out a couple of things we think are important.

The host nation is contributing the forces, that combined evaluation team, and we're using the term training assistance team because that conforms to the type of training the U.N. does. They have a course they run in Italy and they exported that course to Ghana. We've had soldiers attend both the one in Italy and in Ghana and so that's another validator of our evaluation team.

Of course, our U.S. trainers. I mentioned about 60, and about 20 percent of those 60 are combat support logistics folks.

The donor observer trainers. We have solicited our European allies to provide trainers, if they will, for the full 60 days. And if they cannot afford that, because we have not offered to pay for that, we certainly want them to send observers for the final two weeks when we'll be doing our collective situation events and our final comprehensive field training exercises.

Regional observers. We have again solicited each country to invite its contiguous neighbors to reduce any suspicion as to the transparent program as to what is going on across the border. And particularly important to us would be any of the regional organizations; for example, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that's already mentioned in southern Africa or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in West Africa or Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in East Africa and up through the OAU. We also intend to invite the UN DPKO training unit folks to come out and observe our final exercise because we think again we want the maximum qualitative evaluation that we can get.

I think the other things that I would want to tell you about are we have an optometric evaluation. It's the first event that goes on. That's already been completed in one of these two countries, Senegal and Uganda. About 70 out of 300 soldiers that were evaluated needed glasses and we are going to provide those as part of a security systems package.

The rationale for that is really fundamental. If the soldier can not see the target, then we can not expect him to perhaps shoot effectively at the target. And we think that is where discipline starts. If the soldier can see the target and has confidence in his weapons -- and we're going to do marksmanship training -- then the probability if he gets into a belligerent activity, single-shot fire as opposed to automatic fire -- and, of course, the goal is peacekeeping humanitarian assistance, we think that, again, it's an important start to discipline.

We are issuing equipment right now. Training will actually begin on Friday, the 1st of August and, again, undergo individual platoon company. We'll have the situation training exercises for each of the collective tasks and we'll do that leader training and the leaders will actually write the report -- or, I'm sorry, write the orders that they will then execute.

And, again, I can point out from these two gentlemen's oral reports to me -- and you'll have a chance to ask them questions -- that that worked very effectively. By the final exercise in Mali, they were doing their own work. And, again, Master Sergeant Lamb, who is the company sergeant major that was the senior NCO responsible for the training, will be able to answer any questions along with Major Hagar.

The last thing would be the establishment of the civil military operations center that is organic in each of these exercises, and here we are going to integrate the international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, private volunteer organizations and, quite frankly, are looking forward to the opportunity for media interplay. Again, a very important component because you all are in the crisis area, as are the NGOs, PVO set, and we think it is important that the host nation leaders and soldiers know how to work effectively with those very important parts of the battlefield.

And on that, I think my prepared comments are about complete. Again, let me reintroduce Major Hagar, who was the commander of the Company C 1st Battalion of our Third Group. He recently, as of yesterday, quit being the commander and became the battalion operations officer. We think that's a move up because now he will actually be responsible for establishing all of the training activities in north and west Africa, which is where that battalion is responsible. And Master Sergeant Rick Lamb, who was the company sergeant major and still is of C Company.

Again, your questions.

Q: The total number of battalions that you are going to be training?

COLONEL McCRACKEN: Sir, the goal will be to get up to eight. Right now, we have done assessments of eight battalions. And, quite frankly, I've already mentioned five. We are looking to see what the FY '98 budget comes out to see if we are going to get the funding for eight. And we would really like to hope that we might be able to go beyond eight in the future.

Q: Overall program costs you estimate for training up these eight?

COLONEL McCRACKEN: Sir, right now we were allocated 15 million and we spent about a million for the pilot team activities. It's about 3 million, again, per battalion and that will be a generically accurate cost because, again, all we are buying is communications equipment and then the ammunition and all the other functions that come into the training event. We are buying transportation costs in the country, et cetera. It will be a 3 million set.

So I think we looked at 15 million this year. We solicited 20 million for next year and I know at least the discussion went for the '98 budget 15 million was what I think the House wrote into their language.

Q: Is that the minimum that is required to have an effective African peacekeeping capability?

COLONEL McCRACKEN: In terms of the number of battalions, sir?

Q: Yeah.

COLONEL McCRACKEN: I think, again, we have in our discussions with Ethiopia they have offered up a brigade headquarters. So far that is the only brigade-size headquarters that has been discussed. I think eight certainly gives you a credible number. They are spread pretty much throughout the various sectors of Africa. In my perfect world, we would not stop before we got to 14.

Q: You're training up in these various countries, yet the largest contributor to peacekeeping in Africa right now is Nigeria, unless I am mistaken. They seem to be everywhere. Why not Nigeria?

COLONEL McCRACKEN: I'm going to yield that particular question -- that's a policy question -- to Ambassador McCallie.

Q: They also were really good at looting (inaudible).

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: You just answered your own question.

(Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: And you are obviously aware that we can't under U.S. law give military assistance to countries that are run by military governments that have displaced civilian governments.

I would look forward to the time when Nigeria has a democratically elected civilian government when we can work together with them. Yes, they are interested in peacekeeping. They remain an important country on that continent. They always will be. And I hope that there will be a day with a democratic civilian government we can work with them.

Let me also say I second Colonel McCracken. I think that we will have accomplished a great deal if we can train eight battalions but, like Colonel McCracken, I would hope that we could have a broader program; that there would be several other African countries. Some of them are small and some of the other African countries have small enough militaries that they would be able to provide, for instance, a company.

One reason we would like a broad international program is that we know some of our friends in Europe can provide training that we're not providing. For instance, we are not training police keepers in peacekeeping. We know there is several countries in Europe that would do a very good job at that, and we would like to share that task together.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about some of the difficulty of coordinating this with the British and the French, because they are -- as past colonial powers, they have better connections in some of these countries than the United States does, in the first place, and there apparently has been some resistance to coordinating too much as they look at our program.

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: Well, let me say we do respect the fact that they've had some longstanding relationships in Africa, but we have as well. And I think when you talk with Colonel McCracken about all the countries in which his units have done training, it's pretty impressive, not only through -- we're just beginning the African Crisis Responsive Initiative, but through the normal JCET program as well and Flintlock programs.

But you're right. This is a fairly sensitive process and it is a process where we are going to have to move carefully and considerately with our French and British partners. I would like to see us do some joint training and some joint exercises, and both the British and the French have said they would like to move in the same direction. But we're going to do it carefully.

Nor do we want to limit it just to the U.S., Britain and France because, if we do that, we are going to miss an awful lot of resources and talent that other countries have as well.

Q: Why is it a sensitive process?

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: I think you put your hand on it. There is a lot of history there and we are going to have to be aware of the history. On the other hand, what we are saying is that we recognize, as I think does France, as does Britain, that African countries would like to create their own peacekeeping capacity. And part of that capacity, incidentally, would be in command and control, so while Colonel McCracken's units are working from squad level up we are hoping also to work with other officers that have perhaps been to our officer training programs and perhaps to training programs in other countries as well to develop that kind of command and control capacity.

Q: Mr. Ambassador?

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: Yes, sir. You've been trying to ask a question for some time.

Q: (Inaudible.) Well, how is this program different from what Secretary Christopher proposed last year?

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: Good question. As you know, when the program was initially proposed, there was a real concern that we might see an outbreak in one of the countries that would be -- could lead to bloodshed similar to that that we had seen in Rwanda with great tragedy. And there was a sense that we needed to move very quickly to create a rapid response force in Africa.

When various members of the U.S. Government from the State Department and from the National Security Council went out to Africa and to Europe and discussed this concept with other potential partners, we were warned that there was a danger in trying to create a force. First of all, it was quite difficult. You couldn't do that in six months.

But, secondly, a force then would require a political direction, a separate individual force. We were urged instead to create capacity. I find that a difficult concept and sometimes people that deal in good, solid military structures find that a difficult concept.

A member of my staff said one should think of it in terms of Legos, the individual units, building blocks basically, in a number of different areas -- capabilities in a number of different areas. And then when it's time to move into an international peacekeeping operation, those units can be called together.

Now, the advantage of that approach, in fact, in peacekeeping is that if you train, let's say, eight battalions, it may be that not all eight would qualify politically for service in a particular operation. For instance, if that battalion is from a country next door, it may not be desirable that they be in a peacekeeping operation, in that particular peacekeeping operation.

The question then is who provides the command and control, who provides the political oversight. Right now, we see three or four ways that can be done in this context, and it's the way the international system works right now. One would be a United Nations Operation approved by the Security Council, paid for by United Nations assessments. Another would be a multinational force operation, hopefully approved by the Security Council but not paid for by United Nations assessments.

Another would be a subregional organization might choose to operate in peacekeeping in its subregion, in which case it would bear the expense, but I hope that it would also seek the approval of the Security Council.

And then the fourth would be perhaps an OAU peacekeeping operation though, as you will recall, the OAU has hesitated to become involved in actual peacekeeping operations for the last 15 years. But we are looking for more of an OAU input into this developmental process.

Q: You've answered one of my questions, but if I could follow up. How long is it going to take to get these troops trained and ready for some kind of an order to come to them, and then are you aiming at such targets as we've just seen past like Sierra Leone, of the Brazzaville or, for that matter, Burundi? Could this force be deployed to Burundi to quell some civil unrest there? Is that what you have in mind?

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: You're absolutely right in saying that there are continuing crises on the African continent, and that is why we have this initiative. The decision whether to call on these forces would depend upon the actual operation, the crisis itself.

Also, let me say that each country that receives training would still retain the sovereign right to make a decision whether it would send forces in response to a regional call or an OAU call or a UN call. The sovereignty, the sovereign choice, would still remain with the country that owns the troops.

But, yes, we are trying to develop a capacity to respond to these humanitarian crises. Now let me say that gets into an interesting subject. Right now we are concentrating on Chapter 6 peacekeeping operations as opposed to peace-making operations. At some point, perhaps the international community would like to address that question.

But when we have discussed this both with African military leaders and with the UN DPKO, we have been advised start at the beginning. Start with peacekeeping, start with the concentration on training as opposed to sophisticated equipment.

We're also very much aware quite frankly when you get into sophisticated equipment you can alter the balance of forces in a sub-region. You can possibly alter the balance of a political military structure within a country. We are not interested in altering that balance. We are interested in creating peacekeeping capacity.

Q: How long was the time lag that the berets on the ground before you got something you can use?

A: Colonel McCracken can talk to you about that. Our own sense is that after 60 days of training, they would certainly be well qualified to do peacekeeping. As he mentioned many of these units have already done peacekeeping before, in fact, have very good records.

What we're trying to do through this training is to give similar training to a number of different units throughout the continent and the same communications gear.

Now, another aspect of this though, as you well appreciate, you don't train and walk away and forget the effort. Military units will have to continue training. And so what we hope to do over time is go back, and I'll ask Colonel McCracken to speak more about this, but to go back and have some joint training exercises that would take at least the staff officers from several of the countries in which we have trained and allow them to do some joint training exercises.

You asked earlier about the budget. Some of the money in the budget we would like to set aside, in fact, to support joint training exercises. And that's another reason we would like to have more cooperation with other countries, so that we share the burden of the cost of joint training exercises.

Q: What about language barriers? How many language speakers do you have?

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: Colonel McCracken.

COLONEL McCRACKEN: Before I answer you, sir, let me just answer the question about the 60 days. In our own U.S. doctrine, we normally spend about four to six weeks prior to a U.S. force, for example, going into Bosnia, they went to the Combat Maneuver Training Center, et cetera, and did a stability operations train-up very similar in terms of the tasks, conditions and standards that are in our training handbook.

So we really think that that 60-day time frame is very effective because these units are already existing organizations. And even when they have formed the task force, you're talking about existing companies that are now working these new tasks. So we think we can get them to the standard.

We will certainly know better at the end of the first iteration. But given that concept test that I told you these two fine gentlemen already ran, they were quite proficient and, as I say, ran their own final training exercise, organized it, conducted -- you know, built the orders and ran the training exercise. It had all the same moving parts that we're going to have in these particular events.

So at the end of this 60 days, we think any one of the battalions will be ready to be deployed at that time. And we certainly have a qualitative measurement at the end of the FTX.

The language, sir, your question. In the third group, I have got one company of Arabic speakers, four companies of French speakers, one company of Portuguese speakers. Of those companies of soldiers -- and so each company is about 80 people -- about half have a legitimately credible language rating that's current.

So we have been investing in language training in Special Forces now for the past several years. Every soldier in the past three or four years that has graduated from the qualification course has gone to at least four months of language training. So we have some soldiers who have some very excellent language skills. But it does somewhat vary by the individual.

And the training that these young -- I guess -- let me, in fact, yield and ask either one of you to answer the question because even what we just did, they had combined U.S. and these other host nations guys who spoke French, so.

A PARTICIPANT: From our -- from the attachment that we took over, four of those individuals spoke French. And that was the target language. We had five nations that came in to actually participate in the exercise. And three of those nations spoke French, and two of the nations spoke English. So again, out of the 11 personnel, four of those personnel spoke French.

Now in the pre-deployment site survey, which generally send some of the leadership over there initially to look at training areas, ranges, you know, support facilities and what not, at that time we get interpreters from the host nation that we sort of put in our hip pocket. We bring them in on the POI or the program of instruction and then they help us train the trainers.

So generally, like I say, out of our 11-man team, four of them spoke French. We had an additional two interpreters augment us, and we didn't have a problem.

Also of note, quite a few of these officers have been to Command General Staff College and have been to schools within the U.S. Army system, so they spoke English.

MAJOR HAGAR: Another thing too is we identified certain individuals who have the ability to understand this -- peacekeeping operations, have a lot of experience. We identified them early in the assessment and we incorporate them in. And what we did is we focused more training specifically on them, and also incorporate them as trainers in the train-the-trainer concept.

And what we have done, for example, in Mali and Senegal is before we left we gave them the training packages, the enhanced training packages. We did after-action reviews on the spot through each increment. And we incorporated also -- not only the ideals from all of the various countries with respect to peacekeeping operations, because the U.S. does not have a patent on peacekeeping operations -- we incorporate all the after-action reviews from all the different militaries that we could get access information.

But, also, we took the information from the countries themselves, like, for example, from Ghana, from Senegal, from Cote d'Ivoire and participating countries, and Mali itself, and we incorporate that so it's an adaptive training package. At the same time, we left this training package and we gave that information training package to each one of these countries to go back, identified individuals, recommend those individuals to their chain of command to be national trainers.

So what you have now is a continuity of training established there. That's another thing that's added value. And then really that's also part of the sustainment portion as you look down the road. So that's one of the other features that we have tried to incorporate.

COLONEL MCCRACKEN: Let me highlight also a thing that we didn't even state but just kind of comes with the turf. When they do the battalion-level exercise, of course, someone has got to give the battalion staff its orders and then respond to its request for information, et cetera. The military observers in this exercise had had an actual Senegalese platoon come to Mali and work with the Malian company and then, of course, had the combined task force staff.

The military observers came from three other countries, as well, so those folks kind of became the simulated brigade-level staff. And so they worked -- some of them worked as brigade-level staff. Others worked as simulated UN military observers because we like to portray that as an additional feedback loop.

So there's a lot of training going on, and even though we don't have, as I mentioned, except one brigade staff identified, there's the potential to put together a task-organized, combined brigade that just comes as a result of the training. I think it's going to be very effective.

We have over-allotted our time here, but I want to tell you straight away that the most interesting thing to me here is that the African leaders themselves are very excited about this initiative. The individuals from the major through brigadier general level that we have worked with I have personally talked to in pilot teams that these gentlemen have worked with and, again, they brought a nice array. And there's a nice photo in that photo pack there of all the folks who came to the final exercise or the graduation exercise in Mali.

But they're real excited, and they're excited because they think our soldiers treat them with dignity and respect. We work with them as best we can in their language, at least in some form of their dialects that their educated folks work in. We don't necessarily have people who speak Swahili and those things.

But we work with them. We live with them. These soldiers go out and live on the training sites with their soldiers. And we get down and we do after-action reviews and they are included as part of the training team.

If there is an individual, as Major Hagar said, if he has already got the training, then we include him as the primary instructor and our guy becomes the additional instructor. We try as best we can to roll ourselves into the advisor role.

I know from those observations that this can be sustained. As Ambassador McCallie said, we're going to -- at the end of the 60-day training event, four months later we're going to go back with a small six-man team and work on some of the situation training exercises that perhaps were less proficient.

And then four months after that, we'll also go back with another 12-man team and do another battalion FTX. And that also gives us the opportunity -- there's a one-year warranty on these excellent Motorola radios -- and it gives us one more opportunity to keep the contractor accountable for the warranty package.

But we think that's again an important component that we want this to be a very effective initiative. And I believe in my heart it will be.

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: I guess as one more caveat, we were told this is a quote from one of the participants in the exercise is that they said it's about time that you guys -- you know, you guys meaning the told colonial powers whoever, you know, the United States -- got us together.

Because initially we had some reservations. You got Anglophone. You got Francophone. And we didn't know -- neither the twain shall meet ourselves. You know, we had reservations going into also. And so when we got there we realized that that really wasn't a barrier. It was not a problem.

In fact, some of them spoke -- had tribal ties. They were Bambara and also Woloof and -- because the colonial ties when north-south, the tribes go east-west. So these guys, they came together and we made it a bigger problem than they felt it was. They said it was about time that somebody got them together. And it was a very successful --

COLONEL McCRACKEN: And following up on that, as well, you mentioned about the integration of UK and France. We have a combined activity, Third Special Forces Group with the French. It's already been going on a couple years. We actually ran a combined -- called a Joint Combined Exchange Training -- JCET, as the Ambassador mentioned -- we already ran one of those in Africa with the Brits.

So we think that militarily we are moving forward there. Those observers have come out and worked with us. We have invited the attaches and their various countries, et cetera. So at the military level, we are very comfortable that's that is already ongoing. The Brits invited us to come down to the static area and watch the Blue Hungwe (?) exercise. I don't have any concerns there and, you know, I'm sure the policy will catch up with us military guys.

Q: Colonel McCracken, can I ask one last question?

COLONEL McCRACKEN: Yes, sir.

Q: Which countries would be involved in the next phase of this? Which would be the most likely countries?

AMBASSADOR McCALLIE: We will begin training with Malawi in late September and we are planning on beginning training with Ethiopia in October and Mali will be a few months after that. There are other countries that have indicated an interest and we are discussing with them the type of training and the type of equipment. It's a little too early to announce their names until they're ready to do so.

But we are getting a lot of interest. Frankly, the interest will exceed our budget, which is another good reason to have a multinational effort on this together.

Thank you very much.

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