STUTTGART, Germany ó At a remote military base in the jungle city of Kisangani, an elite team of U.S. troops is attempting to retrain a battalion of Congolese infantrymen to serve as a model for an unruly force that has a reputation for using rape as a weapon of war.
In a region where intimidation is used by soldiers and the rebels they fight, the U.S. Special Operations Command Africa troops offer plenty of traditional soldiering instruction. For now, the team of about 25 Americans is focused on small-unit tactics, medical care, logistics support and communications. Soon they also will enlist alternative methods to reform a military in disarray.
U.S. Africa Command is drafting curriculum for dealing with the sexual violence issues that plague the Congolese military
and will incorporate those findings into training this summer.
"Thatís something that we didnít know how to do. We donít have those textbooks," said a Special Forces officer at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart.
The new sex- and gender-based violence-prevention programs will likely be integrated into missions in other parts of the continent, the officer said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
AFRICOM has deployed an expert in sexual violence to the Congo to conduct interviews and help develop the sexual violence program for military leaders who are untrained in this area, according to Special Operations Command Africa.