Rear Adm. Jean Mendoua, Chief of Staff of the Cameroon Navy, took an opportunity to learn more about NPS education and research programs during a visit to campus, Aug. 1-2.
Mendoua toured several research labs, and explored programs of potential interest to the security of his West African nation through briefings with the International Graduate Programs Office, the Defense Resources Management Institute and the Center for Civil-Military Relations, among others.
“The purpose of this visit is to strengthen cooperation between the United States and Cameroon, and we are here because NPS is an outstanding institution for defense strategy that we hope to work closely with in the future,” said Mendoua.
“Cameroon is facing a lot of threats, especially terrorism in the northern part of the country, and we hope to work closely with our allies to share our best ideas and collaborate, to take on terrorism in West Africa,” he continued. “NPS is a great institution to help meet that goal and this visit has gone far beyond all of my expectations.”
Among the official party was Cameroon Army Lt. Col. Stans Victor Mouaha-Bell, the sole student from the nation at the university currently studying in NPS’ Department of Defense Analysis. Mouaha-Bell’s unique insights into the challenges facing Cameroon, and the capabilities of NPS, led him to serve in a liaison-type role during the visit.
“This was a great opportunity to demonstrate to my leadership what we can learn from NPS and what we can bring back to our own military,” said Mouaha-Bell. “The ultimate goal is to use NPS as an opportunity to bring that critical thinking mindset back to our military, and I am confident that Rear Adm. Mendoua will be the best advocate to our Minister of Defense and our President to send our military here to come and learn.”
During the visit, the work Mouaha-Bell is currently doing towards his thesis became of particular interest. The thesis, which he is co-authoring with fellow Defense Analysis student U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Kerins, focuses on how the multi-national force of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin have focused their efforts on the West African terrorist group Boko Haram.
Both students have prior experience with the terrorist organization, with Kerins previously serving in Niger for six months with Special Operations Command Africa, while Mouaha-Bell has taken part in counter-Boko Haram operations for seven years in Cameroon.
“The first-hand experience that we both bring to the table helps us understand the terrain and the cultural dynamics of the region,” said Kerins. “This allows us to further understand not only what actions their militaries have currently taken, but also sheds light on possible strategies they can implement.”
Mouaha-Bell said that Mendoua’s visit helped to provide valuable insight into how their thesis can accommodate the needs of the region’s military forces, at a leadership level.
“This is a great opportunity to get further exposure on my work to some of the top leadership of my country,” said Mouaha-Bell. “My hope is the resources I have used from the NPS Defense Analysis Department and CORE Lab, resources that are all quite new to us, will shed a new light on how we approach terrorist groups like Boko Haram.”