Georgia Army National Guard Chief of Staff
Published in the Journal of International Peace Operations
May 1, 2011
The thought of African military engagements rarely invokes images of preparation for disaster relief or humanitarian operations. The effect that this type of operational training can have on participants, including local populations, is not widely recognized. Exercise Natural Fire 10, the largest humanitarian and disaster relief exercise conducted on African soil to date, is contributing to stronger and more robust disaster response capabilities and a better understanding of the local impact.
Natural Fire 10 involved moving National Guard and Reserve forces from the continental United States and Germany, along with representative forces from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, to several sites in Uganda. The three-week mission aimed to build partner capacity and interoperability, but went much farther than its stated goals. It left all participants with key lessons for multinational operations and a deep appreciation for one another and the Ugandan people.