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NEWS | June 27, 2024

Kentucky Guard engineers support Djibouti armed forces at Camp Dodge

By Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Dickson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

In a dynamic exchange of expertise and camaraderie and sponsored by the Kentucky National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP), engineers from the Kentucky Army National Guard welcomed their counterparts from the Djibouti Armed Forces (DAF) during the unit’s annual training event at Camp Dodge, in May 2024.

The 206th Engineer Battalion, part of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), showcased how they set up a battalion-sized command post and conduct a field training exercise (FTX). The DAF officers, with aspirations to form their own engineer battalion, observed established practices of the Kentucky engineers while gaining insights on command and control, logistics, personnel accountability, operations, and communication.

In addition, the DAF officers met with U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Gensley, the commander of the 206th, to learn the purpose and responsibilities of the battalion commander and how a commander interacts with his staff.

U.S. Army Maj. George Meacham, the operations officer for the 206th, briefed that in a training environment for the FTX, the operations section does not just provide the missions for the battalion but also communicates what mission essential training tasks each company needs to complete.

“The DAF has brought their officers over here to watch how we operate in a tactical and training setting,” said Meacham. “They can then take what they observed and begin to develop their own tactics, techniques, and procedures.

“Also, the Kentucky engineer battalions are perfect for any engineer unit to shadow, just because of the assets we have. We have combat and construction engineers, and Sappers, and we also have the multi-role bridge company, firefighters, a forward support company, and a headquarters company. The DAF has combat, Sappers, construction, and de-mining units, but learning there are so many other elements that could enhance their success has been greatly received by their officers.”

Throughout the week at Camp Dodge, they visited each company from the 206th where they interacted with Soldiers conducting various engineer-related projects around the installation.

The DAF officers observed the 130th Engineer Support Company digging foxholes and tank firing positions. The 130th also built retaining walls, demolished a building, and moved a large firing range tower.

DAF officers visited the 2061st Multi-Role Bridge Company as they erected and maneuvered a raft with bridge erection boats (BEBs) on a nearby lake.

U.S. Army Col. Brandye Williams, the commander of the 149th MEB, also met with the DAF officers to provide context for operations at the next higher level.

“Seeing the young officers interact and present what their sections are doing are very important to the longevity of this relationship,” said Williams. “As these captains and lieutenants grow in their career, so are these Djiboutian officers. Now they will have a more personal relationship that will last longer as we continue these engagements.”

U.S. Army Maj. Eric Green, a bi-lateral affairs officer for the Kentucky SPP, explained that one objective was for the Djiboutians to identify Kentucky National Guard procedures that can be mirrored in future Djiboutian engineer units.

“They already have some of these same types of companies, but they do not have the battalion-level organizational setup that enables them to work together to accomplish goals on a bigger scale,” said Green.

Kentucky partnered with Djibouti through the SPP in 2015. Djibouti is located on the Horn of Africa, which is on the eastern coast of the continent of Africa.

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