NIAMEY, Niger - Soldiers from the 138th Regiment (Combat Arms) Indiana Regional Training Institute trained 120 Forces Armées Nigériennes in Niger for six weeks in February and March.
This training enhances the Niger army’s ability to train new recruits. The Indiana training team joined members of the U.S. Embassy’s Niamey Office of Security Cooperation and the Niamey army to accomplish the mission.
The training aims to strengthen the training capability of Forces Armées Nigériennes as part of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act. The act, authorized by Congress, is designed to improve the governance and capacities of countries in North and West Africa.
“This training was the culmination of nearly five years of work between nations,” said Staff Sgt. Aden Ben-Hameda, a master instructor with the 138th. “I was assigned to the embassy in 2017 with the mission to improve basic training with FAN leadership. During that time, they wanted to transition away from French military doctrine and move towards American doctrine. Accomplishing this mission is the first major step towards furthering our partnership with Niger and expanding our interaction with them.”
The culminating event took extensive time, coordination and planning to standardize Niger basic training, which provides continuity for a professional security force to counter regional threats and violent extremist organizations.
“The most rewarding part of training was seeing the students get involved with training and the level of interest and appreciation they showed for what we were doing,” said Ben-Hameda.
The Indiana National Guard has been a partner with Niger under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 2017. It also has partnered with Slovakia for more than 20 years.
“Our partnership with Niger is a great asset to our state,” said Capt. Aaron Hurley, deputy director of Indiana National Guard international programs. “It links the Indiana National Guard with the armed forces of Niger in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship by means of small footprint, high-impact security cooperation engagements for an enduring relationship.”
During the training, four groups of Niger soldiers competed in a round robin-style competition each week, requiring them to complete newly learned tasks.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to work side-by-side with our state partner of Niger,” said Brig. Gen. Justin Mann, director of joint staff. “We look forward to supporting their defense capability while promoting security, stability and prosperity for the region.”