Security Cooperation Team- 1, with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 14, departed Naval Air Station Sigonella for an upcoming train-the-trainer theater security cooperation engagement in Toubacouta, Senegal, during September.
The team will train and advise their counterpart cadre, the Senegalese Companie de Fusilier Marine Commandos, or COFUMACO, on maritime security force assistance, marksmanship exercises, patrolling techniques and small-boat tactics and skills. In turn, the Commandos will train the rest of the Senegalese armed forces themselves, representing a progressive step in theater security cooperation events.
Since arrival in Senegal, Marines, Sailors and Coastguardsmen of SCT-1 have worked diligently to establish a daily training routine with their COFUMACO counterparts.
In the first week, SCT-1 conducted an open-water swim event which consisted of an approximately 100-meter swim from small boats into the shore. Before the event, Cpl. Christopher Landauparicio, an Atlanta, Ga., native and trained Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival, instructed the COFUMACO on basic open-water safety precautions.
After, the COFUMACO cadre took the lead and trained the rest of the COFUMACO service members.
The rest of the training evolution will be conducted in two groups. One of the COFUMACO groups will focus primarily on light-infantry tactics, and the other on boat operations, and then they will switch at the halfway point.
The boat operations group, led by the U.S. Coast Guard, will instruct classes on overall boat operations to include operational risk management, navigation and maritime patrolling techniques.
“This mission speaks volumes about the capabilities of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Deployable Specialized Forces,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Alicia Flanagan, a Missoula Mont., native and the officer-in-charge of the Coast Guard detachment. “Our ability to rapidly mobilize to unknown environments and act as force multiplier to supported government agencies is the reason for our existence.”
The infantry group will provide instruction on land navigation, weapons handling and patrolling.
“Lance Cpl. Jonathan Neumann, who is on his first deployment, was tasked with giving the land navigation class,” said 1st Lt. Thomas McNamara, the SCT-1 officer-in-charge. “[He] worked tirelessly on the class back at [Naval Air Station Sigonella] and again in Toubacouta over the weekend leading up to the class and did an absolutely wonderful job and was recognized by both the Marines and the COFUMACO.”
After a period of instruction on the M-16 service rifle, SCT-1 turned to a number of friendly competitions, focusing on speed of ammunition reload and disassembly and assembly of the weapon.
The infantry group reviewed the differences between cover and concealment, fire and movement on the buddy and fire-team level, and extensively reviewed patrolling.
“Working with both the Marines and COFUMACO, despite using non-standard platforms, has been incredibly rewarding and a true testament to everyone’s training,” said Flanagan. “Building on the COFUMACO knowledge and skills was seemingly effortless; the cadre was heavily involved and all trainees approached every aspect of training with the highest levels of enthusiasm completing even most difficult of tasks with ease.”
These military-to-military engagements not only sustain the skills of Marines and Senegalese Commandos but promote the sharing of knowledge and increase of military capacity between other African security partners, such as members of the Economic Community of West African States.
ECOWAS is a regional group of 15 countries, founded in 1975, which Senegal is a part of. Its mission is to promote economic integration in all fields of economic activity, social and cultural matters.
SP-MAGTF Africa 14 partners with Senegal and many of the other countries that are included in the ECOWAS, in order to help strengthen our relationships and work towards our common goal of regional stability and security.
SP-MAGTF Africa strengthens U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa and U.S. Africa Command’s ability to assist partner nations in addressing their security challenges. Marines and Sailors with SP-MAGTF Africa conduct theater security cooperation, military-to-military engagements and are trained to provide contingency support to crisis response.