Gate sentries are the first line of defense, not only for force protection but also for enforcement of base orders. A strong show of force not only deters potentially dangerous activity but it creates overall stability, safety and security for the base being protected.
Marines with SPMAGTF Crisis Response - Africa traveled to Contonou, Benin and Lome, Togo, where they trained alongside service members from each country for a theater security cooperation engagement focusing on base security, Nov. 24-Dec. 6.
The purpose of the training engagement was to help develop and enhance armed sentry skills as several service members from both countries are preparing to deploy for peace-keeping missions to specific regions in Western Africa where they will be standing sentry duties.
Furthermore, the service members that aren’t deploying for peace keeping missions will be using the skill sets developed to ensure their home bases are defended to the best capacity.
“Not only will this training bolster both countries’ overall military capacity and aid to future peace keeping missions, but strengthening armed sentry capabilities and overall security capabilities enhances the [Benin and Togolese armed forces’] ability to control their major ports within each region,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Faherty, the officer-in-charge of the TSC team training with the Beninese and Togolese Armed Forces.
Faherty added that “safer ports within Benin and Togo directly translates to more shipping in and out of the regions, thus bolstering their economy while simultaneously improving maritime security within each region.”
In Benin, the Marines trained alongside 15 noncommissioned officers and junior sailors.
“The Beninese Sailors were enthusiastic and ready to learn each day,” said Faherty, a Bethpage, N.Y. native. “They also possessed a good deal of knowledge and experience in armed sentry skill sets and easily absorbed the new practices and techniques we shared with them.”
In Togo, the Marines trained alongside 20 students from the Togolese Army, Air Force, Navy and the Gendarmerie forces.
“Training with the Marines has been a great pleasure, the soldiers were able to learn a great deal by sharing knowledge with [the Marines],” said a platoon commander with the Togolese Armed Forces.
Training in both regions focused on weapons safety and handling, rules of engagement, escalation of force, personnel and vehicle searches, vehicle entry points as well as entry control points—ending with a final exercise that tested the collective tactical knowledge learned over the course of the training engagement.
“We created three scenarios for each group that varied in difficulty and tested the appropriate level of escalation of force required,” said Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Burns, the senior enlisted leader for the team of Marines. “The service members for each country easily adapted to each scenario, applying the knowledge we shared into practical application.”
By conducting TSC engagements SPMAGTF-CR-AF strengthens U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and U.S. Africa Command’s ability to assist partner nations in addressing security challenges.