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Desert survival training to benefit French, U.S. forces
"Not only does it teach infantry movements in the field and seizing different objectives, it teaches teamwork and camaraderie.”
U.S. Army Spc. Steven Saurimayo, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, climbs a rope obstacle during the French Desert Survival Course May 6, 2016, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The U.S. forces were required to complete the obstacle course, and then perform the same course in reverse while carrying a tire that could not make contact with the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released)
3 photos: CJTF-HOA image
Photo 1 of 3: U.S. Army Spc. Steven Saurimayo, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, climbs a rope obstacle during the French Desert Survival Course May 6, 2016, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The U.S. forces were required to complete the obstacle course, and then perform the same course in reverse while carrying a tire that could not make contact with the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released) Download full-resolution version
U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, paddle a zodiac watercraft across a beach during a water crossing exercise May 5, 2016, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The soldiers completed the exercise as a team in less than 40 minutes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released)
3 photos: CJTF-HOA image
Photo 2 of 3: U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, paddle a zodiac watercraft across a beach during a water crossing exercise May 5, 2016, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The soldiers completed the exercise as a team in less than 40 minutes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released) Download full-resolution version
A U.S. Army soldier swings from a ledge to a rope ladder during the French Desert Survival Course, May 6, 2015, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The mountain obstacle course is the final test, requiring nearly every skill set learned in training, and must be completed in a strict 25-minute time limit to graduate the course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released)
3 photos: CJTF-HOA image
Photo 3 of 3: A U.S. Army soldier swings from a ledge to a rope ladder during the French Desert Survival Course, May 6, 2015, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The mountain obstacle course is the final test, requiring nearly every skill set learned in training, and must be completed in a strict 25-minute time limit to graduate the course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released) Download full-resolution version
U.S. Army Spc. Steven Saurimayo, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, climbs a rope obstacle during the French Desert Survival Course May 6, 2016, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The U.S. forces were required to complete the obstacle course, and then perform the same course in reverse while carrying a tire that could not make contact with the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released)
U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, paddle a zodiac watercraft across a beach during a water crossing exercise May 5, 2016, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The soldiers completed the exercise as a team in less than 40 minutes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released)
A U.S. Army soldier swings from a ledge to a rope ladder during the French Desert Survival Course, May 6, 2015, at Arta Plage, Djibouti. The mountain obstacle course is the final test, requiring nearly every skill set learned in training, and must be completed in a strict 25-minute time limit to graduate the course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton/Released)

ARTA PLAGE, Djibouti -- More than 35 U.S. forces joined French Cadets, infantry and legionnaires to negotiate the French Desert Survival Course April 25 to May 10, in Djibouti.

The course exposed the forces to the fundamentals of desert combat, survival and troop movements while bridging language and cultural barriers between French and American troops. This evolution of the course also adds two U.S. Air Force instructors to the French instructor team.

“Not only does it teach infantry movements in the field and seizing different objectives, it teaches teamwork and camaraderie,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Eiden, a course instructor from the Air Force.

“[U.S. forces] get the opportunity to be here because we’re stationed at Camp Lemonnier and the infantry battalion has built good relationships with the school. It’s been valuable integrating U.S. and French assets together.”

Ludwig Grandjean, of the French 1st Cavalry Regiment, Foreign Legion, serves as a platoon leader for French troops participating in the course.

“When I work with American units, I see how you work against the enemy,” he said. “It allows me to improve my [skill]. It also gives me the opportunity to show you what the French can do underground against an enemy and [how] we can change, adapt and improve.”

Joint training in austere environments is beneficial, as the Djiboutian terrain is similar to that of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali, he said.

Parts of the course had students learning how to collect water in the desert, make bread, and rice, find sources of meat, and learn other skills that could save their lives in the desert.

“In many conflicts and operations, we are working together, so this type of training in Djibouti allows us to discover other units and gives us an opportunity to prepare for future engagements and operations,” Grandjean said.

Grandjean emphasized the more French and U.S. forces learn about each other’s skill sets, joint operations will become easier.

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