Building Military Relations in Africa
Prinslow, Karl E., Military Review
ERC projects will be submitted to the Joint Staff for approval and funding based upon the extent that the projects. . . promote US national interests.
-US Central Command regulation 1
With security assistance funding reduced, Exercise Related Construction (ERC) projects are an example of how US and foreign military-to-military relations will take place in the future. ERC is defined as "an unspecified minor construction project, outside [the Continental United States], in support of an in-progress, or planned, CJCS [Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff] exercise that results in a facility or facilities that remain, in any part, after the end of the exercise."2 As they conduct these combined operations, small-unit commanders and staffs will have a far greater role in executing US foreign policy's military element and accomplishing military strategy than when they conduct comparable exercises at home station or at the combat training centers (CTCs) or during Reserve Component (RC) annual training.
The Department of Defense (DOD) ERC program is an excellent vehicle for maintaining and developing sound relations with current allies and potential coalition partners. It also allows the US soldier and his leaders to support US peacetime engagement policies and to use their skills to support regional combatant commanders. ERC projects are proposed by the unified commands and funded by Congress to build facilities to support US military exercises overseas. Combined exercises, which often include ERC projects, aim at improving US and allied military capabilities to protect mutual interests and to prepare for coalition warfare should it become necessary. These exercises' lessons are instructive for future operations throughout the world.
This article describes a 1996 ERC project in Kenya and identifies pitfalls to avoid in planning and conducting future exercises. Building a live-fire range, combined with humanitarian assistance (HA) and medical assistance projects, increased the military participants' operational readiness, improved the health and welfare of the host nation (HN) populace and revitalized lagging military-to-military relations between the United States and Kenya. This exercise situation was extremely advantageous for the US military for the following reasons:
* No combined exercises had been conducted with Kenya in more than six years, and the intervening years were fraught with intergovernmental tensions that made future exercises problematic. This exercise relieved tensions.
* The US and Kenyan militaries worked together, sharing responsibilities, expertise and command and control (C^sup 2^).
* The exercise involved deploying units and equipment by sea and air to East Africa, transporting equipment more than 500 miles over land, building a live-fire range and two dormitories and conducting a medical civic assistance project. All this was accomplished with HN participation.
* The exercise was completed without any serious accidents or injuries.
* The exercise encouraged mutual respect among participants and raised expectations and anticipation of future combined cooperation.
US Military Interaction in Kenya
Kenya is the southernmost nation in the US Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility. US-Kenya military relations date to the mid-1970s when Kenya requested a survey of its defense requirements. The result was a blueprint of US support and cooperation and a long-term acquisition and modernization plan. US personnel with the initial training and maintenance cadre teams became the Kenya-US Liaison Office (KUSLO), a CENTCOM security assistance office. KUSLO and US military access to Kenyan facilities were formalized by a govemment-to-government "access agreement" in the early 1980s.3 The subsequent construction of US military dock facilities at Kenya's main port and a warehouse and parking ramp at Mombasa's international airport further extended the US presence in Kenya. US military assistance to Kenya in the 1980s resulted in a high level of appreciation for US financial support and a reliance, if not dependency, on this largesse, as evidenced by Kenya's lack of national funding for Foreign Military Sales (FMS)-equipped units.4
When the Cold War ended, US priorities shifted and viewpoints changed. Thus, in the late 1980s, Kenya's suspect human rights record came under close scrutiny by the US Congress, resulting in 1991 legislation, and later US government policy, prohibiting additional Foreign Military Financing (FMF) loans and restricting the use of funds already allocated to Kenya until its human rights practices were improved. In 1992, Congress also rescinded Kenya's unused grant money-$9.6 million-and used it to cover Los Angeles earthquake emergency management costs.
This dramatic shift in policy and "cold turkey" cutoff of funds dismayed the Kenyan military, which reacted with resentment and antipathy toward US military liaisons. After two decades of cooperation, these new US policies and actions caused Kenya to question our credibility and reliability as a partner. Virtually all forms of official military interaction with and assistance to Kenya were restricted or terminated, and US military training exercises in Kenya were canceled from 1990 to 1995. These strained relations were exacerbated by a US desire to use Kenyan facilities-granted by the 12-year-old access agreement-to conduct military contingency operations, including evacuations from Mogadishu, Somalia; HA and famine relief in the Horn of Africa in 1992 and 1993; US and UN operations in Somalia from 1992 to 1995; evacuation of US and other personnel from Rwanda in 1994; and HA operations in Rwanda, also in 1994.
To revitalize a working relationship with the Kenyan military and enhance Kenya's place as a potential coalition partner, the CENTCOM commander in chief (CINC) directed his staff in fiscal year (FY) 1995 to plan an exercise in Kenya. The exercise would include an ERC project to build an infantry squad live-fire assault course at the Kenya Army School of Infantry at Isiolo. Construction was proposed for May to August 1996 to coincide with the RC's annual training.
CENTCOM's 416th Engineer Command received the ERC project mission and assigned the task to one of its wartrace units, the 368th Engineer Battalion (Construction), a US Army Reserve unit from Manchester, New Hampshire.5
Project Planning and Execution
The project's budget was $175,000, which covered only the materials and equipment operating costs. Planning and deployment costs were covered by the involved commands' operating and maintenance budgets.
In October 1995, the proposed project was still strictly an American initiative. Kenyan leaders had not yet had reason or the opportunity to review and consider the idea. The CENTCOM CINC sent his exercise request via KUSLO and an embassy diplomatic note to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by letter to the Kenya Department of Defence (KDOD). These were important protocol steps, given the strained relations of recent years. The notification and approval mechanics were an important learning process in protocol for both KUSLO and KDOD. In a country such as Kenya, whose military strongly clings to the tenets of civilian control, guidance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Office of the President is required before the military can enter any agreements with a foreign military. Uncertain about the access agreement status, the Kenyan military treated the US overtures very carefully.
Several months earlier, KUSLO had held unofficial discussions with key Kenyan military personnel about hypothetical combined training opportunities. This included providing training literature so the Kenyan army and KDOD would better understand the proposed facilities' appearance and how the US Army would use them for training. Considering Kenyan budget constraints, the cutoff of FMF funds, the low operational readiness of Kenya's FMSpurchased equipment and the military's lack of training with that equipment, KUSLO proposed that the ERC project would be a high-quality training opportunity for Kenya's army.
While Americans involved in such exercises understand they have a mission to accomplish, the same assumption cannot be made about the HN. The first pre-deployment site survey (PDSS) was not done until early December 1995 but began before the Kenyan military received exercise approval. The key to a successful PDSS is to identify representatives from all elements to be involved in the actual deployment as well as the HN offices and personnel with whom they will coordinate.6 Unlike training at home station or at a US Army CTC, ready access is not always available to key HN staff members who can facilitate coordination. The more the US military liaison office understands about the proposed project, the better it will be able to interface with the HN military and government.
Expanded mission. At the start of the PDSS, the planning team informed KUSLO that the CENTCOM Army component commander had allocated funds for a humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) project and a medical civic assistance project (MEDCAP). In addition to this project expansion, KUSLO made it clear that in the eyes of the US Embassy, success meant Kenyan military participation and more was better.
By the time the first PDSS ended, the mission had expanded due to a positive reception from the HN military and local civil authorities. US planners concluded that Kenyan army transport of US personnel and materiel was the most cost- effective option, and both the US Embassy and Kenyan military wanted greater Kenyan participation. Local civil authorities proposed an HCA project to build two 80-person dormitories. This could only be accomplished through the combined effort of US and Kenyan engineers. After agreeing to fund a water well at the School of Infantry to support the ERC project, US planners said they would consider drilling another well at the HCA site. US planners also agreed to reproduce Kenyan army 1:50,000 scale maps needed by US forces. A MEDCAP to support the Isiolo District medical officer's annual immunization program was also proposed.7
Expect confusion. Combined exercise planners must anticipate confusion and prepare to diffuse it through effective coordination and frequent seniorlevel contact. The first PDSS revealed a misunderstanding by the Kenya army deputy commander, who thought the United States planned to build a tank gunnery range. This illustrates the difficulty in clarifying the scope of work to the HN. Further, reliance on HN staff officers may result in ambiguous messages and a delayed approval process.
Another lesson is that definitions of readiness and operational standards can be clouded in cultural interpretations. US concerns arose about the operational readiness of Kenyan army transport unit vehicles, but the commanders insisted they could cross the line of departure with functioning vehicles. The commanders were enthusiastic about the training exercise not just because it would offer valuable experience, but also because parts and materials used during the exercise would be "replaced in kind." US planners and Kenyan commanders believed that the "replacement in kind" agreement would leave Kenyan vehicles and equipment in a higher readiness state at the end of the exercise.
Replacement in kind. Although the Kenyan army saw the exercise as a valuable training opportunity, it would also be one where they would be limited by an annual budget that did not anticipate an increased operational tempo.8 Therefore, equipment and personnel funding was a concern. US training with foreign militaries is supported by the ability to fund other participants' costs via replacement in kind of repair parts for equipment used in the exercise. A written memorandum of understanding (MOU) or agreement provided for replacement in kind of fuels and parts, as well as scheduled maintenance services for the Kenyan army units supporting or participating in the exercise.
Replacement in kind can become a very emotional issue rife with misunderstanding and misperception, as evidenced in this exercise. Explaining to the HN exactly what will and will not be furnished and how it will be furnished are essential. It is equally important that we stipulate what cannot be provided, as well as the limitation of US liability for damaged equipment. We must allow the HN sufficient time to review and approve proposals. An approach that places US military legal review above the foreign nation's opportunity to conduct a similar review will derail the positive relationship we seek. Working with the HN military and the US liaison office, US participants must make every effort to ensure that all parties fully understand the agreement's limitations. The US liaison office is key in this effort, because it can help all parties understand one another's interpretations.
This exercise's expanded mission necessitated a second PDSS, this time at the port of Mombasa, where American planners began to coordinate US equipment arrival. Planning also was under way for two US Special Forces (SF) exercises that were scheduled to occur simultaneously in the vicinity of the ERC project.9 These SF exercise surveys also provided additional opportunities to coordinate exercise activities with Kenyan civil and military authorities. These contacts also led to a clearer understanding about the MEDCAP's capabilities and limitations, as well as water well locations, electrical power supplies and proposed design modifications in the construction projects.
The second PDSS concluded with an approved concept for US and Kenya operations. The Kenyan army planned to drill two water wells, transport US personnel and some US equipment and organize and conduct all road convoys. Planners' conclusions about the Kenyan army's commitments were later reinforced by KDOD and orders assigning Kenyan army units to the exercise.10
Country team participation. Contact with the US Embassy staff-referred to as the country team-can be as important to mission success as contact with HN officials. The country team includes the US civil government counterparts to all US Army division staff members. The country team can help military planners get information about the HN, determine medical requirements and handle logistic and financial functions. During the second PDSS, a US planning team member briefed the full country team. The briefing's professionalism and its clear articulation of the exercise objective and concept won over many skeptics who did not fathom the US Army's ability to support the ambassador's country plan. The briefing's success helped convince the US Agency for International Development and Peace Corps representatives to discuss cooperation with future military exercises, if only to share suggestions for future ERC, MEDCAP and HCA projects.
HN coordination. An HN liaison officer (LNO) should be empowered to effect coordination with the decision-making body of the exercising unit or military service. Because KUSLO felt that coordination with the HN military was insufficient and ineffective after the second PDSS, it directly sought assistance from Kenyan army headquarters rather than through KDOD. Because Kenyan participation was mostly logistic support, the Kenya army commander had assigned this exercise to the deputy army commander for administration and logistics. When KUSLO advised the deputy's office about the coordination problems, an exercise LNO was appointed. Thanks to the LNO's past experience, his knowledge of US Army procedures and his access to the KDOD communications system and Kenya army decision makers, coordination became more efficient and effective. KUSLO knew the Kenya army LNO was a competent and capable officer who considered the exercise's success as his own. Although each PDSS had a Kenyan LNO, they served in that capacity only as an additional duty and were not senior enough to deal directly with the Kenya army leadership. Moreover, they were working on a proposed exercise that the Kenyan government had not yet approved. The newly assigned Kenya army headquarters LNO swept away these shortcomings.
The third PDSS was conducted to finalize the convoy movement order to deploy personnel and equipment and to initiate contracts for goods and services. The idea of US military personnel driving equipment across the breadth of Kenya was novel. There was little hope, however, that Kenya's government would grant approval, given that it had disallowed a similar request during the Rwanda HA operations in 1994. Because the Kenyan army is more familiar with the tactics, techniques and procedures of intratheater movements and convoy operations in Kenya, the Kenya Army Transport Battalion was tasked to plan, coordinate and conduct the convoys, including those in which US personnel would drive US military vehicles. This provided a more equitable distribution of responsibility for mission success. The Kenya army had C^sup 2^ for transport and constructing the water wells, while the US Army had C^sup 2^ of the range and dormitory construction work.
The US exercise unit deployed its equipment in April 1996, and advance party personnel arrived in late May. The advance party received the equipment, moved it to the base camp, set up the base camp and verified completion of preconstruction work. Then, in three 17-day rotations, soldiers built the Infantry Squad Battle Course and two dormitories, conducted the MEDCAP and prepared for redeployment. All work was completed on time and within budget. After opening ceremonies, the facilities were turned over to the Kenyan military and civil authorities. Several important insights were gained from the combined exercise.
C^sup 2^. Some US soldiers may feel they should not take direction from or be under the command of a foreign nation's officers. In this exercise, command relationships were clearly delineated. Sometimes, the Kenyan military was in command. For example, the Kenya army transport unit commander was the only convoy commander. Requests to include a US convoy commander were denied by KUSLO in the interest of recognizing and expressing support of the Kenya army officer's ability, authority and responsibility in a shared endeavor; and following the "unity of command" principle of war. However, the Kenyan convoy commander was persuaded to consider US Army safety requirements and regulations and US lack of knowledge concerning area customs and terrain particulars.
Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC) participation. Including MTMC planning and operations personnel early in the exercise planning process is an important lesson. The US Navy has husbanding contracts in place at many ports around the world, including Mombasa. MTMC can request that these contracts include services such as offloading ships and transporting the cargo inland. Such a contract with Kenya would have relieved all parties of some stressful negotiations for inland container transport.
Written agreements. This exercise proved MOUs are invaluable as supportive planning documents but not as insurance policies. KUSLO was reluctant to require a written MOU or agreement for this project, fearing it would be misconstrued as a lack of faith or trust. Written MOUs later proved to be valuable in reminding all parties about necessary plans and programs for subsequent subprojects. For example, the Kenya army tasked its engineer brigade to construct two water wells, using materials purchased by the US Army as part of the ERC project. Despite the close working relationship between the Kenyan unit and US exercise participants, misunderstandings arose about who was responsible for what portions of the work and the completion time frame. Subsequently, MOUs resolved this dilemma.
Contracting officer. The US understanding of an international agreement does not mean its implementation will be handled in the American style. Although a US-Kenya agreement permits the dutyand tax-free purchase of materials by the US military, KUSLO did not understand how this would work. The magnitude of the administration required by the Kenyan government to effect this exemption was burdensome for the few US contract officers who deployed. The US Embassy procurement section did not have enough personnel to adequately support this. A method to preclude this additional expense or administration in countries with which the United States has similar agreements would be to purchase goods and services through the HN department of defense. The other noteworthy lesson is that regardless of how well the US liaison office members think they know the HN, unit planners should verify the administrative, logistic and financial functions the liaison office does not normally handle.
Work schedules and other cultural differences. In conducting a combined exercise with a foreign nation's military personnel and staff, different work habits, customs and military specialty definitions must be accommodated. The counterparts' view toward the exercise or project also must be understood. US planners and the military liaison office should thoroughly coordinate these matters before US soldiers arrive. However, soldiers working alongside one another on a common project will create a bond faster and more lasting than any staff officer can coordinate.
MEDCAP planning and conduct. Medical activities must be integrated into the HN regional medical officer's annual plan. During the first PDSS, the Isiolo District medical officer (DMO) was informed of the American desire to help him and the people in his district. The most difficult part of DMO coordination was ensuring that he and his staff understood the funding limitations on medical materials. MEDCAP's resources enabled the DMO to accomplish much of his annual immunization plan.
MEDCAP activities are invaluable for the good will they create toward the United States and the HN government and its military, albeit perhaps only in the region where military training is routinely conducted. However, if they cannot rely on the annual presence of US medical personnel, the local people may find MEDCAP's value to be fleeting. Thus, MEDCAPs should be prepared to support the foreign nation's Ministry of Health at large or have enough resources to improve health care across a wide area.
The Kenyan military medical corps was reluctant to become involved with the US military due to uncertainty about the status of the inter-governmental access agreement. This reluctance can be used as a yardstick to judge future relations via exercise involvement.
Public affairs and civil military affairs. The US small-unit commander or staff officer must work with local civil authorities when participating in foreign exercises. Thus, civil-military relations are at a far higher interest level than during a comparable training exercise at a US military facility.
Planning for the exercise in Kenya did not call for civil affairs (CA) or psychological operations participation. The US Embassy public affairs officer (PAO) worked with the KDOD PAO equivalent and prepared press releases to inform the public about the US military equipment and why it was in Kenya. The objective was to avoid media speculation about US military construction. US relations with the local populace and authorities were addressed at the beginning of the planning process and enhanced through the initiative of unit leaders and soldiers. The senior Kenyan civil authorities in the exercise area were informed of all planned activities, and their support and suggestions were always solicited. The material and financial benefits to the community were apparent and helped gain the civil authorities' support.
Intelligence and security. Information available about Kenya in the United States is more extensive than perhaps any other African country. Therefore, answers to questions about the country should be readily available. The fact that some questions remained unanswered after a PDSS indicates a need for a better understanding of how to access information data bases and the intelligence system. Direct telephone conversations with KUSLO provided answers and reassurance to the 416th headquarters. Although this was far more expensive than sending reports, it provided immediate answers to senior leaders' questions. This exercise pointed out the different types of information requirements that exist for a combined peacetime construction and HA project. The intelligence preparation of the battlefield process is applicable if the "enemy's" nature is redefined. The early dispatch of supply, maintenance and transport logisticians, contracting officers, medical personnel and CA experts is invaluable in finding answers.
This ERC project resulted in the construction of a live-fire training facility, two 80-person dormitories and two water wells and the immunization of thousands of Kenyans against life-threatening diseases and was accomplished on time and within budget. Tangible improvements in the HN's equipment readiness and soldier skills and in US engineers' skills were clearly evident. The larger success was an intangible improvement in Kenya-US military relations and demonstrating the value of that relationship to Kenya's government. This improvement can be measured by Kenyan planning for and acceptance of proposed ERC projects and combined training exercises through FY 1999. Greater participation by other Kenyan units and a broader range of exercises will achieve the CENTCOM CINC's objective of working with a viable coalition partner. This exercise also contributed to the positive US DOD perception of the Kenyan military's potential for contributing to larger forces. The combined results reflect the success of improving international relations.
The weapon of combined exercises in the arsenal of preventive diplomacy and preventive defense must remain on the front line, and the US Army must remain ready to use it. The Army will train on mission-essential tasks and help develop greater efficiencies in international relations via this military-to-military interaction.
1. US Department of Defense. US Central Command (CENTCOM) Regulation 415-2, Exercise Related Construction in the USCENTCOM AOR [Area of Responsibility] (Washington. DC: US Government Printing Office 15 June 1995), 2.
2. Ibid. This regulation further clarifies the ERC project purpose by stating, "ERC projects complement and enhance the USCENTCOM Exercise Program. Projects will be developed to enhance the effectiveness of exercise activities, reduce overall exercise costs. enhance safety and/or improve training of engineer forces. ERC may be accomplished by US troops, combined US-host nation (HN) engineer forces or by contractors. . . Where an ERC project is planned in a country eligible for HCA, an HCA construction project should be planned in conjunction with the ERC project.
3. CENTCOM is represented in Kenya by the Kenya US Liaison Office (KUSLO). This office of five military personnel from all three services represents the US military's (CENTCOM's) interests and administers the US government's security assistance programs. KUSLO also supports all US military activities and interests in Kenya. The senior KUSLO officer offers input, counsel and advice to the US ambassador and embassy country team regarding the military perspective or viewpoint of US government policy vis a-vis those of the HN and region.
4.US military assistance to Kenya in the 1980s included Military Assistance Program (MAP) grants, Foreign Military Financing (FMF) loans for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) purchases and Intemational Military Education and Training (IMET) allocations. IMET is a program by which foreign military personnel attend US military schools. IMET funds averaged more than $1 million a year from 1986 to 1990. Funding for MAP and FMF has exceeded $250 million since 1975.
5. CPT Basil Piazza, assistant S3, 368th Engineer Battalion, interview by author, 3 December 1996.
6. Members of the first PDSS included 416th Engineer Command (Forward) liaison officers; the 368th Engineer Battalion executive officer. S3, assistant S3 and S4; a representative from the 143d Transportation Command: and a medical officer. A Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC) representative was not involved at that time. MTMC support was later requested, once the exercise's scope, related work and contracting requirements were determined. See the Joint Unis Lessons Learned System (JUl S) Long Report, JULLS 0034985976, for comments from the 368th Engineer Battalion's noncommissioned officers who felt their participation would have substantially enhanced their understanding of the operational concept and what to expect. HN offices that should also have been contacted included the Ministry of Heath to discuss the Medical Civic Assistance Project.
7. The first PDSS discovered that in Kenya, "assault course" is analogous to the US Army's "obstacle course,"and thus, the correct term for the ERC project would be "Infantry Squad Battle Course"
8. General Staff of the Kenya Army, conversations with author, January-March 1996; and Kenya Army Engineer units' commanders, conversations with author, July 1995 to April 1996.
9. An ERC project is built in support of a US military training exercise. This ERC project was intended to support US exercises in Kenya. These Special Forces exercises were the first to make use of the facility.
10. The words "support to" the exercise were constanty avoided in order to reinforce the fact that this was a combined exercise, one which the Kenyan army or Kenya Department of Defense assigned to subordinate units. Therefore, participation in, rather than support to, the exercise was constantly emphasized.
Lieutenant Colonel Karl E. Prinslow is the analyst for Africa with the Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He received a B.S. from the US Military Academy and an M.A. from the Naval PostgraduateSchool at Monterey; California, and is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College. He Jas held a variety of command and staff positions in the Continental United States and Africa, including Security Assistance Programs officer, Kenya-US Liaison Office, Kenya; Reserve Component support director 1 st Infantry Division (Mechanized) (lst ID[M]), Fort Riley, Kansas; S3, 2d Brigade, I st ID(M); S3, 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1 st ID(M); and G3 operations officer, 1st ID(M).…
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Publication information: Article title: Building Military Relations in Africa. Contributors: Prinslow, Karl E. - Author. Journal title: Military Review. Volume: 77. Issue: 3 Publication date: May/June 1997. Page number: 18+. © 2009 U.S. Army CGSC. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.