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Reservists of the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment help train Ugandan soldiers
MEN and women from York, North and East Yorkshire have been helping to train Ugandan soldiers in East Africa.
They are part of a 30-strong team led by Reservists of the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (4 YORKS), working in temperatures of up to 32°C.
Their roles have varied from testing the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) before it crosses into Somalia to run peacekeeping operations to assessing the Ugandans’ ability to deal with suicide bombers and other attacks. They have also helped to school a 1,900 strong Ugandan Battlegroup in counter-insurgency techniques.
The 4 YORKS-led team includes fighting soldiers, medics, training officers, Military Police and support staff, most of whom have civilian jobs but give up their spare time to train and serve as Army soldiers.
Lieutenant Colonel Iain Hallam, the training team’s Commanding Officer, said: “I’ve been really impressed with how much the Ugandan Army does with so few resources, and equally impressed with a really important quality our team has - an ability to connect with the Ugandan soldiers.”
Colonel William Beinomugisha, the Commander of UGABG 13 – the UPDF Battlegroup, said: “Everything has gone well, the training is in place and we have enjoyed it. I can say as Commander of the Battlegroup that our forces are able and ready to go to their mission.”
• Warrant Officer Class 2 Michael “Chyz” Chyzak, a bricklayer from Scarborough, joined 4 YORKS as a Reservist in 1977 and has served in the US, Canada and The Falkland Islands.
As a Pioneer Warrant Officer his role is to get his soldiers into buildings, across rivers and through minefields. In Africa he has been assessing the Ugandans’ ability to deal with suicide bombers and other attacks.
He said being self-employed meant he could work with the Reserves when it suited him, and the Army had been good to him at a difficult time in the building trade.
The father-of-two, who is married to Gail, said: “My next challenge will be in Scarborough were I’ve been asked to establish an assault pioneer platoon, so we’re going to be full-on recruiting for that in 2014.”
• ARMY Reservist Corporal Joanne Appleyard, 27, an Army recruiter from Goole, is an Army Reserve medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps and has been assessing the Ugandans’ casualty treatment and evacuation skills.
“They are very good soldiers working with a limited amount of equipment so we have had to adapt and learn how we can best help them go into Somalia to win hearts and minds there.
“Getting to places like Uganda and helping to train other armies is massively appealing. I have been to the Falkland Islands, Albania, Germany, I served in Afghanistan as a Combat Medical Technician in 2011-12 and I’ve met a lot of good friends too.”
Joanne, who is single, added: “My mum and dad are really proud of what I do.”
• Major James Barker, 43, an Army Reservist from York whose civilian job is a business development and marketing manager, has been second in command of the unit.
He said: “It’s a real privilege to be here. The Ugandan soldiers aren’t as well equipped as other armies, but they are very enthusiastic and the welcome has been superb. We’ve come here with a very good reputation and Ugandan commanders appreciate that we treat Ugandan soldiers in exactly the same way as we treat our own. I’ve been in the Reserves for just over ten years, and served in the RAF before that, so I’ve deployed on operations many times, most recently to Iraq. My civilian employers and my family have always been very supportive of what I do.”
• Lieutenant Colonel Iain Hallam, an Army Reservist from Pocklington, is the Commanding Officer of 4 YORKS.
In civilian life Iain is an associate with Life Transitions, a York company which helps people learn motivational skills to make life changes. The former full-time soldier joined the Reserves in 2008.
He said: “I never planned to stay in the Reserves for long, but I got hooked. My team all feel it is worthwhile to come out to Africa for two weeks to train fellow soldiers in skills that will help them achieve military success in Somalia while keeping themselves safe.”
Iain, who is married to Anna and has three daughters, added: “I’ve been really impressed with how much the Ugandan Army does with so few resources, and equally impressed with a really important quality our team has – an ability to connect with the Ugandan soldiers.”
• Captain Warren Allison, 31, a soldier from Tadcaster, is the Adjutant of 4 YORKS and in Uganda he has been mentoring the UPDF Battlegroup Headquarters, ensuring they are well prepared for their mission in Somalia.
He said: “I enjoy Army life for the reward of seeing parts of the world improve because we are involved. That really motivates me, but I also enjoy working with the soldiers.”
Warren who has a wife, Samantha, said: “I’ve got experience of mentoring from my service in Afghanistan and I have also worked with other armies. The quality of the Ugandan soldiers is even better than I thought it would be, they take advice on board and then adapt it to their needs and resources.
“It’s great being here, to see and experience Uganda especially in the middle of December.”
• Army Reservist Captain Michael Sinnott, from Northallerton, is an IT projects manager for North Yorkshire County Council.
Michael, 32, is Regimental Signals Officer for 4 YORKS, and has been assessing how well the Ugandan soldiers work in rural environments.
“We’ve been seeing how they move their convoys safely. The UPDF soldiers are very good at doing exactly what they are taught. They’ve picked up a lot of skills over the last few weeks from the US and Dutch training teams, we’re here to assess how the Ugandans are performing and supplement the training where needed.
“I joined the Army Reserve in 1999 to do something different and I’ve found that the more I put into the job the more I get out of it. “ Michael, who is married to Joanne with three sons, including twins, added: “I’ve found out that, in Uganda, having twins makes you quite important; it gives you a certain amount of respect. Some of the local soldiers have even asked to have their photograph taken with me!”
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