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NEWS | June 6, 2022

Enduring partnership: U.S. Soldiers create English discussion group in Niger

By Staff Sgt. Chloe Ochs 409th Air Expeditionary Group

U.S. Soldiers from the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, assigned to the 409th Air Expeditionary Group, recently created weekly English discussion groups with students and young professionals here.

The groups are comprised of U.S. Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the 409th Air Expeditionary Group at Nigerien Air Base 201, conversing with members of the Agadez community who aspire to learn the English language.

“An English discussion group is essentially a gathering of people who are working on their English language capabilities,” said 1st Lt. Chris Arlene, civil affairs team leader with the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion. “It provides them with an opportunity to practice and gain confidence in conversational English. When personnel from Nigerien Air Base 201 can attend, it gives the people of Agadez an invaluable resource to converse with native English speakers.”

“I think in Agadez specifically, it is a great first step for building a sustainable relationship with the youth here. Hopefully, that can be expanded upon over time,” said Arlene.

English discussion groups serve as a tool used by civil affairs to gather information and build rapport within the local community, strengthening the long-standing partnership between the U.S. and the citizens of Niger. As invited guests of the government of Niger, Airmen in the 409th AEG are committed to enabling our Nigerien partner’s ability to provide security and stability to its citizens.

“These English discussion groups are truly a great opportunity for the Soldiers, Guardians, and Airmen assigned to Nigerien Air Base 201 to interact with the local community,” said Col. Daniel Kobs, 409th Air Expeditionary Group commander. “Service members participating in these groups can better understand the local community in which they are operating, enhance their own personal and professional development, and really put into context one of the foundational goals of our presence here – maintaining a strong relationship with our host nation partners.”