Marine visits orphanage with students during Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course

Marine visits orphanage with students during Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course

Students from the Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course – Africa planned and executed a community relations project for Chamazi Orphanage in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, March 15. This photo is property of the U.S. Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (March 26, 2014) – Within intelligence courses, practical application exercises have their place, but might not be a universal fit. Presenting course material outside the classroom often increases efficacy of understanding in a different setting.

The Military Basic Intelligence Officer's Course, Africa 10 (MIBOC-A ) has taken the idea of practical exercises to the next level. The semi-annual, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa-led event is considered the flagship course of intelligence training engagement for U.S. Africa Command on the continent.

During the 8 weeks of the MIBOC-A course that recently concluded in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 25 students from the nations of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, and Burundi received extensive training on basic intelligence, exercising their understanding in classrooms around map boards in traditional fashion.  When it came to the second half of the course that focuses on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism the understanding of unconventional approaches, the population for a center of gravity, and the need for positive civil relations outweighing the importance of physical strength becomes much more difficult to convey.

Though slide decks and briefings have their place, it requires real application to understand the importance of "winning hearts and minds" in order to fully "get it."  As such, the students of MIBOC-A were challenged with developing and executing a community relations project that would have a lasting effect on the local community of Dar Es Salaam. 

The project was enabled and guided by members of the course staff comprised of the MIBOC-A officer-in-charge, U.S. Marine Capt Justin Moeykens, Canadian Navy Lt Jorim Disengomoka and Capt Ruslan Gouseinov, and Tanzanian associate instructors, Maj Mustapha Seif Mkundi and Capt Rugabela Biteya Charles, and the MIBOC-A class leader from Uganda, Major Gonzaga Gonza Kworekwa.

On March 15th the students and instructor cadre conducted a community relations project at the Chamazi Orphange, simply named after the Chamazi area of Dar Es Salaam.  The orphanage provides a home to nearly 180 children from infants to late teens.  Through student donations and fund raising the MIBOC-A was able to raise 1,000,000.00 TZS (approximately $800.00.)  With the funds, the students collected the much-needed supplies to complete the exterior plastering of an education building for the children.  Additionally, because the students exceeded their fund raising goal, additional money was available to purchase meat, beans, rice, milk and cooking oil which was presented as gifts to the children on top of school supplies sent from the United States and toys and baby clothes donated by newly formed friends of the Canadian officers.

The MIBOC-A team came to the orphanage prepared to work, many of whom participated in the manual labor associated with the plastering project, grass cutting, trash pick-up and wood splitting for cooking; however, it quickly became apparent that what was needed the most for the children was human interaction from a caring hand. 

Before long, a dance party broke out, lead by Ugandans and Kenyans; children were scooped up and carried around and bounced on hips by students from all nations. AFRICOM Regional Joint Intelligence Training Facility instructors provided comical routines to eager children creating an infectious environment of happiness and laughter.  The children became enamored with the uniforms, flexing their small biceps, making gestures and simple drawings in the sand that expressed their desire, to the best of my understanding, to be super heroes and ninjas, presumably like us. 

The afternoon was followed by a soccer game between the MIBOC-A students and the Chamazi Orphanage team.  Everyone walked to the edge of the field and as the older children prepared for the game against the MIBOC-A team there was not an open seat for the game on a knee or lap.  The game concluded in a 2 – 1 victory for the MIBOC-A team. Despite the loss, the local team left satisfied from the healthy competition and competitive banter. Sadly, as the game concluded, it became time to go. Kind words were exchanged between the MIBOC-A leadership and the orphanage staff and small tokens of appreciation and gifts were presented to the children and their caretakers from student representatives.  With a few final embraces of the children and one final group photo taken, we departed back to the city. 

I believe Gen James Mattis said it best, with regard to integrating multiple countries and lines of operations which can only be achieved if exercised, when he said, "In this age, I don't care how tactically or operationally brilliant you are, if you cannot create harmony—even vicious harmony—on the battlefield based on trust across service lines, across coalition and national lines, and across civilian and military lines, you need to go home, because your leadership is obsolete. We have to have officers who can create harmony across all those lines."  I think these objectives set forth by Mattis were achieved that day by the students and instructors of MIBOC-A.

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