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Published:August 18th, 2006 03:27 EST
'Natural Fire' provides assistance to African nations by Master Sgt. John Lasky

'Natural Fire' provides assistance to African nations by Master Sgt. John Lasky

By SOP newswire

Three East African nations and the United States are participating in Natural Fire 2006, a multilateral training exercise that is providing medical, veterinary and engineering civil assistance.

The exercise includes approximately 1,000 servicemembers from the United States, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. This is the first time since 2000 that the four countries have participated in Natural Fire.

"This presents a great opportunity for us to learn and be prepared for a disaster response and provide real-world humanitarian support," and Maj. David Westover, public affairs officer for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. "We'll be sharing as much as we're learning. This is a great opportunity to work together."

Marine reservists from the 6th Engineer Support Brigade in Battlecreek, Mich., will work with the Ugandan force to repair a children's ward, clinic kitchen, nun's residence and community center, and erect a perimeter fence around the clinic.

"The fence will help us control the human and animal traffic walking through the clinic and the nun's ward used for storage," said Dr. Calvin Epidu, chief medical officer at Serere Hospital.

Doctors are expecting to see 2,000 patients in three days in Soroti Division. Nine Air National Guard doctors, nurses, medical technicians and pharmacists from units across America will work with their Ugandan Defense Force counterparts prescribing medicines, eyeglasses and injections, and advising on referrals.

"We're here to build a strategic relationship with Uganda. The medical staff is learning to treat tropical diseases and we're sharing our knowledge on disaster preparedness," said Dr. (Col.) William Walters of the Tennessee Air National Guard.

American forces hope to make this type of training opportunity and humanitarian support more commonplace.

"Hopefully, this can be expanded, maybe even annually," Colonel Walters said. "It's a win-win situation for everybody."

Source: USAF