Captain Bryan Gregory wrote
Note: Captain Gregory is a logistics officer with the U.S. Army 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 137th Infantry.
The mission to Kenya was a deeply rewarding experience for me. Prior to my arrival, like most Americans, what I knew of Kenya was limited to beautiful wild animals and world-class athletes. Although both are true, what I found was infinitely more meaningful. From the rich culture, to animals walking about and the beautiful landscape, Kenya fulfilled every expectation one might have when traveling to Africa.
Our mission was to host a seminar that focused on logistical operations and support planning for the Kenyan Armed Forces. This was my first at-length experience with a foreign military. What immediately struck me was the professionalism shown at every level within the KAF. From the guard standing post at the front gate to the colonel addressing a general, all would snap to attention and render a hand salute exuding respect.
The KAF are heavily influenced by the British military. On the first day we were introduced to morning and afternoon tea. This was a great opportunity to experience Kenyan culture and interact with KAF officers. The officers were very well read and asked many questions dealing with the “issues of the day,” an example being the U.S. departure from Iraq. I enjoyed these moments the most with the Kenyan officers as it was less business and more relationship building. Although I’m a coffee drinker, I have found a new love for tea.
The Kenyan officers showed great interest throughout the seminar. Seeing them interact, debate and critique each other’s plans made me proud as an American because our efforts were assisting Kenyans work through the steps needed to address their country’s needs.
We did not have an opportunity to visit the various natural parks and wildlife refuges that were home to Africa’s “Big 5,” although, as we traveled throughout Nairobi, you could not help but notice the cascading green hills, merchants pulling camels or goats, and women carrying baskets on their heads. We also had the pleasure of interacting with a Maasai warrior dressed in traditional garments. Nairobi was a great mixture of rich culture, and the sights and sounds familiar to a big city back home in the states.
Growing up in America, I always hoped that one day we as a nation would pay more attention to Africa. Now as I reflect on my experience with the KAF and Kenya, I am proud, yet deeply humbled, I had an opportunity to be a part of that new found attention in Africa. I have no doubt Kenya’s future is bright and, with continued partnership, it only gets brighter.
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