Monthly Archives: November 2010

GEN Carter Ham has been nominated by President Obama to command US AFRICA COMMAND

Experienced Army commander testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C.

You can read the transcript of the hearings here ~

We wish him every success!



Filed under Uncategorized

South African Reserve Force Council Military Skills Competition 2010

Originally uploaded by US Army Africa


The weather was hot, the weapons were different and there was little time to practice.

But five New York Army National Guard Soldiers had the time of their lives and placed fifth out of 22 teams during the South African Reserve Force Council Military Skills Competition 2010 at Potchefstroom Military Base Nov. 8-13.

The Soldiers, all members of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, headquartered in Gloversville, N.Y., represented the United States at the annual South African event, known as “Milcomp.” The event combines athletic ability with basic military skills over a three-day period.

“The great thing about it was we were able to do a military exchange program with the South African Army and see how the South Africans operate and see similarities between Soldiers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Troy Mechanick, a resident of Hudson Falls, N.Y., and the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the team.

Accompanying Mechanick were Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Orabona from Ballston Lake, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Dorvee from Queensbury, N.Y.; Sgt. David Hansen, from Melrose, N.Y.; and Pvt. 1st Class Michael Ellsworth, also from Hudson Falls.

The South African trip was the first time out of the United States for Ellsworth, who has not yet deployed on a mission. The other Soldiers are all veterans of contingency operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

New York National Guardsmen regularly visit South Africa as part of the Guard’s State Partnership Program, which pairs a state’s National Guard with a developing nation’s military. New York has been partnered with the South Africa National Defense Force since 2005.

After arriving in the South African summer — “It was 90 degrees at 09:00,” Mechanick said — from a cool fall in upstate New York, the Guardsmen had a day to practice before launching into the competition, which involved shooting, negotiating obstacles and running.

For the shooting competition, the Americans were issued the unfamiliar South African R4 rifle, a 5.56mm assault rifle based on the Israeli Galil, which operates like an AK-47. Each team member fired 30 rounds in different positions at 100-meter targets. The top four scores provided the team score.

The R4 is a good weapon that is not very different from the M-4 American Soldiers use, Mechanick said.

“We practiced the fundamentals of marksmanship and we scored very high on it,” he said.

The weapon used in the pistol shooting competition, the South African Z88, is a South African copy of the M-9 Beretta that American Soldiers are familiar with. Again, the Soldiers fired 30 rounds, but this time at 25-meter targets.

The Americans got a break from the heat during the water obstacle competition. The Soldiers had to dive into a pool and negotiate obstacles as rapidly as possible, but the Americans didn’t do so well here.

Day two of the event included a grenade-throwing competition in which Soldiers were scored on accuracy and distance. The Americans did well at the grenade throw, Mechanick said.

Dorvee impressed his South African hosts by heaving a grenade 79 meters, 15 meters farther than the closest South African and four meters less than the world record, Mechanick said.

They did less well in the land obstacle course. The 20-obstacle South African course rewards agility and balance, while American obstacle courses require brute strength to negotiate, he explained.

The final event, an eight-kilometer run, was tough on the New Yorkers, Mechanick said. The American Soldiers were not used to running that much and it was very, very hot.

In addition to the competitive events, there was also time for the Soldiers to get to know their hosts better. The Americans attended a South African barbecue, known as a braai with some veteran South African NCOs, and there was always time to joke around.

The trip was a great chance to “represent the United States and New York State and to let them see what a typical U.S. Soldier is like,” Mechanick said. “A Soldier is a Soldier everywhere.”


Filed under Uncategorized

Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta is awarded Medal of Honor at the White House, Nov. 16, 2010

President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 16, 2010, for his actions of valor during an enemy attack in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, Oct. 2007. Don’t miss U.S. Army Africa’s video interview with Staff Sgt. Giunta at —

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rwandan officers visit Landstuhl November 2010

U.S. Army Africa conducted a familiarization visit for two Rwandan military medical soldiers at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, Nov. 1-4.

Lt. Jacques Twagirayezu and Lt. Col. Marc Sebaganji of the Rwanda Defense Forces toured the U.S. Army Medical Department’s premiere European facility to observe American military medicine at work, and to bring their insights home for consideration and adaptation for the benefit of their land forces.

“We basically visited with the staff of the Trauma Department, took tours of the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and operating rooms — the noncritical care wing — as well as the physical therapy department,” said Maj. Kristin E. Agresta, responsible for Force Health Protection in USARAF’s Command Surgeon Section.

“We were focused on the Wounded Warrior Program, meaning the movement of patients from point of injury through the military medical system back to the United States. The emphasis for these guys was on understanding our Level 1-3 care: buddy aid/medic aid at point of injury; battalion aid station and the field hospitals,” she said.

“I know they were very impressed with the organization of the system and the obvious teamwork that was displayed as they interacted and observed the staff. Lt. Col. Sebaganji mentioned this several times,” Agresta said.

“Lt. Twagirayezu, who is a physical therapist, enjoyed the opportunity to see the physical therapy wing. He was impressed with the equipment and was able to compare methods of treatment for injuries with the Chief of the Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy Department,” she said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sustainable building in Djibouti

Originally uploaded by US Army Africa

The Djiboutian Red Crescent Society (DRCS) held a two-day Superadobe Training Seminar Oct. 28-29, in partnership with a team from the U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion, Company C, to teach sustainable building techniques.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Erickson, a graduate of The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture Superadobe training course, led volunteers from Djibouti, Obock, Tadjoura, Balbala and Dikhil through step-by-step instruction, which provided students with fundamental skills to build a sustainable eco-dome structure.

“Acquiring this skill will enable these students to be able to build their own structure in their community, as well as allow them to train others how to build a structure,” said Red Crescent Secretary General Abdi Khaireh, who passed out certificates of achievement to the 15 students who completed the seminar.

Female Red Crescent volunteers participated in the seminar as well, each student working on an example dome at the DRCS compound in Balbala.

An eco-dome structure consists of sandbags filled with earth, placed in layers or long coils, with strands of barbed wire placed between them for reinforcement against the elements. Erickson and a team of military volunteers recently built a prototype structure on base at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

The Eco-Dome was engineered by the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture to provide comfortable, economical and sustainable building solutions for impoverished and natural disaster stricken-areas. The design ensures the structure will be resistant to earthquakes, fire, flood and hurricanes.

Teaching eco-dome building aims to benefit communities by making available an inexpensive alternate to constructing brick-and-mortar structures, said Erickson.

Many participants expressed their desire to teach others what they learned.

“I would like to finish this house and assist on future projects in my village,” said Moustapha Osman, a Red Crescent volunteer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Vicenza flooding Nov. 2, 2010

Originally uploaded by US Army Africa

U.S. Army Africa will resume normal hours of operation Wednesday, Nov.3.  As of Tuesday night, DoDDS schools are scheduled to remain closed. Personnel working in Longare should contact their individual division chiefs for reporting details.

Snow melt, rain and local flooding closed most of U.S. Army Africa and U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, Nov. 1-2. The command and post will resume normal operating hours Wednesday, Nov. 3, with the exeption of DoDDS schools, which will remain closed.

Flooding in the Veneto region wreaked havoc in the Vicenza area, resulting in the closure of U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza and U.S. Army Africa Tuesday, Nov. 2, for all but mission essential personnel.

Residents are urged exercise good judgment and common sense safety measures at home and on local roads, and to stay tuned to American and Italian media sources for further information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Vicenza flooding Nov. 1, 2010

Flooding in the Veneto region has wreaked havoc in the Vicenza area, resulting in the closure of U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza and U.S. Army Africa at least through Tuesday, Nov. 2, for all but mission essential personnel.

The AAFES Shoppette on Caserma Ederle remains open; otherwise, all services and activities, including the health center and DoDDS-Europe schools, remain closed until further notice.

Rainfall is expected to continue through the day and night Tuesday, and into Wednesday morning.

Residents are urged to curtail all non-essential travel, exercise good judgment and common sense safety measures, and to stay tuned to American and Italian media sources for further information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized