Military-to-military engagement was a big part of Dave’s job while stationed in Djibouti. Not only did he work with the different branches of the U.S. military, but he also spent time with members of the Kenya Ministry of Defense (KMOD), particularly with the chaplains.
The Kenyan chaplains saw the need for a school to better train their chaplains but had no idea how to go about starting one. Thus, the Kenyan Ministry of Defense Chaplain Training Program was born. At least the seed was planted.
“The idea came about after our first visit with the Kenyan Ministry of Defense. After round-table discussions with the principal chaplains, a Roman Catholic, a Protestant and a Muslim, we realized we had much in common with the troops we care for,” Dave said.
Issues such as alcohol abuse, family separation, and post-traumatic stress affected troops from both nations, but Kenyan chaplains were not always trained to deal with these experiences.
“The KMOD knew they needed a chaplain school, but didn’t know how to start. Ch. (Jon) Cutler and I brainstormed an idea to bring one of each of the KMOD faith group chaplains to Camp Lemonnier to work with the base level chaplains and experts in the Family Readiness Center for two to three weeks per person,” Dave said. Through the visit, the three Kenyan chaplains would gain a foundation in the common concerns among military members and observe how the U.S. chaplains meet the needs of military members.
Of course, the KMOD was interested. Next came working out the details with the major players – Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa, KMOD, US Africa Command and the US State Department. “We needed to work out the logistics, legalities, international cooperation and, of course, who pays for travel, time, lodging, etc.,” Dave said.
Dave took the lead on the logistical, topical and schedule of events for the Kenyan chaplains while Ch. Cutler tackled convincing the leadership at CJTF-HOA, AFRICOM, and the State Department that this was not only a good idea, but met the mission goals of relationships and community building.
Many of the pieces fell in place, but not enough for Dave to see the project to fruition. However, a modified version took place in July 2011. For more information on that visit, go to http://www.africom.mil/Newsroom/Article/8464/kenyan-chaplains-visit-camp-lemonnier