Ga. Army National Guard trains in Republic of Cameroon - Dallas News |

Ga. Army National Guard trains in Republic of Cameroon

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Members of the Georgia Army National Guard got more than they bargained for this year during their annual training. They traveled half way around the world, and thanks to their training skills, they did a world of good.

Specialist Donnie Kessler is back home in Georgia, but just weeks ago, he was in the Republic of Cameroon in central Africa.

"My specific mission was to set up pathfinder operations," said Kessler.

Every year, National Guard members attend a two week training period known as annual training. But this year, Kessler and other members of the 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade spent annual training in Africa, training Cameroonian military personnel how to get supplies to their soldiers by air.

"When you're out in the field for weeks at a time, you just can't walk back to your base and get food and water or medical supplies -- things like that. So, the most logical thing to do is to get supplied by air," said Kessler.

The streets of Cameroon are busy with people, but the jungle was a bit of a challenge and a machete was their best tool.

"They're not for war-fighting. They're for chopping down some of the landscape," said Cpt. Leif Rivera.

The heat was a bit of an issue for the American soldiers, with average temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees. Sgt. Steven Ondrejech says the Cameroonians' friendliness and willingness to learn was encouraging, making the mission a success.

"If you run out of food or ammunition, water, medical supplies while you're out there, it could mean the difference between life or death -- critical skills we were teaching these guys out there," said Ondrejech.

The training was part of the United States Africa Command's mission which protects and defends the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the defense capabilities of African states.

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