NGWALA, Tanzania —
Deep in one of the largest countries in East Africa, U.S. Army soldiers have been training Tanzanian game wardens in operations to deter poachers and prevent extremist organizations from profiting from illicit activities.
The soldiers, with the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, conducted training in countering illicit trafficking for Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority game wardens, from May to July.
Tanzania is rich in culture and wildlife such as elephants, giraffes, hippos, and lions. About 38 percent of its land is reserved for conservation.
Illicit trafficking continues to be a transnational problem throughout CJTF-HOA’s area of operations. Enhancing the game wardens’ capabilities will disrupt the flow of illicit trade as well as the funding of violent extremist organizations, Army Maj. Kevin Jusza said.
Poaching Funds Transnational Terrorism
“This illegal poaching and hunting funds transnational criminal activity,” he said. “A lot of these funds have been engaged with transnational terrorist activity. In Kenya, for example, Al Shabab [terrorists] often cross the border from Somalia into Kenya to engage in poaching to fund their operations.”
The training covered a variety of topics such as medical skills, land navigation, ethics and human rights, weapons, patrolling, mission planning, information management and reporting, air to ground reconnaissance, and apprehension. These courses augment the ability to recognize and intercept illicit alleged poachers and illicit traffickers.
As of the end of July, the soldiers had completed three courses and graduated more than 70 game wardens. These wardens use their training daily to accomplish their mission to prevent and deter illicit trafficking and poaching activities. Army Sgt. Matthew Smith said he’s proud to have had such an impact on the Tanzanian game wardens.
“A student we trained last cycle approached me and told me about a mission last month where his team came upon a poaching camp using tactics we taught them to clear and process the site,” Smith said. “I was extremely proud, and for me to be able have a part in their instruction is a huge joy.”
Studies have shown that illegally trafficked goods from Tanzania have been distributed throughout the world. A State Department report from May 2017 said “illicit trafficking remains the lifeblood of the numerous bad actors and networks, creating vulnerabilities for nations.”
U.S. Africa Command assists partner nations in their efforts to provide stability and security to their people. The training provided by the U.S. civil affairs soldiers enables Tanzania to better secure and protect its natural resources and wildlife from transnational threats and extremist organizations, officials said.