News / Africa

US Army Trains Congo Soldiers

Soldiers from the Congolese army medical personnel train as soldiers from Africom, the US military command covering Africa, oversee them during a two-weelk training exercise in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oct 2010
Soldiers from the Congolese army medical personnel train as soldiers from Africom, the US military command covering Africa, oversee them during a two-weelk training exercise in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oct 2010

Multimedia

David Axe

In the conflict-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, the country's own military is one of the biggest causes of instability. The 100,000-strong army - a mix of government soldiers and former rebels - has been accused of robbing, enslaving and raping Congolese civilians. The U.S. military has begun deploying trainers to help reform the troubled force, one small step at a time.

In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are injured Americans on the streets. Their injuries are being staged as part of a two-week training exercise for 300 Congolese army medical personnel codenamed "Medflag '10." It is being overseen by Africom, the US military command covering Africa.

Lt. Col. Todd Johnston with the U.S. Army said, "For the Congolese, it's a chance to learn some techniques from the U.S. Army."

The need for the training is clear. A study by the aid group Oxfam found that soldiers and police commit two-thirds of the rapes in Congo. The Americans hope to begin turning around the army by providing a positive example.

State Department Spokesman Marc Dillard said, "The real objective is to help or sustain and support the government of Congo so they can do things like better protect the civilian population and better provide security."

It's a tough job. Primitive conditions and a lack of modern equipment are two challenges. Language is another.

Army Sgt. Stuart Hammer said, "The most difficult portion is the language barrier. When we use an interpreter, they interpret into French, and a lot of Congolese soldiers are speaking Lingala, so it gets interpreted a second time. So the time factor is extended greatly due to the interpretation and the second interpretation."

What's more, many Congolese soldiers are former rebels who were invited to join the army as part of a peace deal.

Marcel Stoessel is Congo Director for Oxfam International. He said, "It's difficult to reform the Congolese army because it's a collection of armed groups that's been integrated, not an army that's been constructed from scratch."

As a final exam, the Americans required the newly-trained Congolese troops to interact with civilians at a free health clinic in Kinshasa. American and Congolese doctors, dentists and medics worked side by side treating around 2,000 patients over several days.

U.S. Army Maj. Curt Kroh said, "The biggest thing we help with is medicines. They're short on medicines. We bring a lot of that to the table, as well as the education piece. We trade treatment methods and ideas to help fine-tune their care."

At the same time, another U.S. Army team is wrapping up a year of training another Congolese unit in the nearby city of Kisangani.

Lt. Col. Johnston said, "The U.S. has determined it wants to be more involved in Africa. This is simply the military part of that increased engagement at all levels."

The two training efforts are just the beginning of America's growing involvement in Congo's army reform.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid