JINJA, Uganda — Pvt. Cody Mitchell saw the Army as his ticket out of Georgia. On Tuesday, less than a year after he enlisted, he was in a tent in Uganda exchanging pleasantries with the commander of U.S. Army Africa and posing for photos with a Ugandan army general.
“I know it’s not always like this,” Mitchell said later that day, as he drank a soda on a hotel patio overlooking a blue swimming pool and the green River Nile, still buoyant from his brush with military celebrity. “Every day, people are telling me I’m lucky just to be here.”
Mitchell’s presence in this verdant, breezy Ugandan town is for an annual training exercise the U.S. Army conducts with east African armies. Called Eastern Accord, the exercise is designed to foster regional cooperation to deal with security threats and humanitarian crises, train U.S. troops to work in austere environments with their African counterparts, and provide U.S. and east African military officials the opportunity to develop friendly relationships.
“What we’re doing here is working with regional partners to assist them in preventing conflicts from becoming all-out war,” said Col. Chip Daniels, commander of the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division and the exercise control director. “You have Africans exporting security in the region, which we think is wonderful; we’re not sending brigades over here.”