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NIAMEY, NIGER - Members of Niger’s Forces Armées Nigériennes (FAN), as part of a U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) initiative, recently completed the inaugural Basic Training Enhancement Program at Tondibiah Basic Training Camp, Niger, March 28, 2022.
The program, created as a joint venture by the U.S. Embassy, Niamey; SETAF-AF; the Indiana National Guard, 138th Regional Training Institute and the FAN certified 124 Nigerien non-commissioned officers as basic military training instructors under a new standardized program of instruction. The implementation of the BTEP increases Niger’s immediate and long-term capabilities to address terrorist threats and is funded by the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Program.
The four-week instructors’ certification program covered 43 selected critical combat tasks found in the newly developed Soldier Manual designed to enable FAN Soldiers to shoot, move, communicate and survive.
“The training hasn't been that difficult for me because of the instructors,” said FAN Adjt. Abdou Soumana Abdou, a participant in the BTEP training. “We had instructors who understand the training and have the commitment to teach.”
“We took the training that falls under the four areas out of their basic training curriculum and filled the gaps with our doctrine,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Ledbetter, senior infantry instructor, 138th RTI. “The goal isn’t only to standardize training across the board but to make sure the people teaching Soldiers are knowledgeable in the warrior tasks and have the ability to effectively train.”
The goal of the BTEP course is to not only standardize training but also to modernize the way the FAN trains by incorporating techniques used by U.S. Army instructors.
“I enjoyed working with the students and learning how they operate within their military at the basic training level. Their personal experiences added context to lessons being taught and why the material was so important for their basic trainees to learn,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Sprague, infantry instructor, 138th RTI. “My hope is that by applying lessons learned and the standardization of training will lead to lives saved in combat on the ever-evolving battlefield.”
The BTEP course is the third phase in a four-phase operation to enhance the basic training capability of Niger’s armed forces. Phase one started when the 138th RTI observed the basic training process in Niger to evaluate how the 138th RTI could assist with standardization and modernization. In phase two, SETAF-AF assisted the partners in constructing the training manual, adding references and examples on how to train. During phase three, the 138th RTI conducted the training and certification of the FAN basic training instructors to ensure proficiency in the warrior common tasks. Phase four will be the mentorship cycle and implementation of the new program of instruction, or POI. During this phase, the 138th RTI instructors will act as observer, coach and mentors while the certified FAN instructors train the new recruits during the next basic training cycle.
“I've learned new techniques to help save lives in combat,” said Abdou. “I'd like to encourage others to become instructors of basic training because it is the future of the Niger Army and to teach the knowledge we’ve learned to the future.”
The Indiana National Guard began its state partnership with Niger in 2017 in support of the U.S. Africa Command Theater Security Cooperation Strategy.
“The partnership is based on military-to-military engagements with all components from Niger and Indiana National Guard,” said Lt. Col. Maurice Curtis, operations officer, 138th RTI. “We train in support of security cooperation goals to build capacity, strengthen defense institutions and counter threats.”
Niger and Indiana are a part of the State Partnership Program, administered by the National Guard Bureau, which has 87 partnerships; 16 of those partnerships are among U.S. states and African nations. The goal of the program is to build relationships that enhance global security, understanding and cooperation.
“The program is based on a full spectrum of exchange philosophy partnering service members from every rank with their allied nation counterpart,” said Curtis. “Conducting exchanges focused on military and civilian best practices in air and land forces interoperability, disaster management and professional development sustains the partnership between Indiana and the country of Niger.”