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Reserve Marine Brings Wealth of Experience to African Lion
For nearly 30 years, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mick Flynn has dedicated his life to the Marine Corps. <br /> <br />He is currently in Agadir, Morocco at African Lion 2010, serving as the Marine Forces Reserve advanced party logistics officer,
AGADIR, Morocco - Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mick Flynn, the African Lion 2010 advance party logistics and anti-terrorism force protection officer, speaks with a Moroccan Army officer at the Moroccan Southern Command Headquarters in Agadir, Morocco, May 15, 2010.  African Lion is a theater security cooperation exercise conducted annually between Morocco and the U.S. military to further develop joint and combined capabilities.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Major Paul Greenberg)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: AGADIR, Morocco - Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mick Flynn, the African Lion 2010 advance party logistics and anti-terrorism force protection officer, speaks with a Moroccan Army officer at the Moroccan Southern Command Headquarters in Agadir, Morocco, May 15, 2010. African Lion is a theater security cooperation exercise conducted annually between Morocco and the U.S. military to further develop joint and combined capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Major Paul Greenberg) Download full-resolution version
For nearly 30 years, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mick Flynn has dedicated his life to the Marine Corps.

He is currently in Agadir, Morocco at African Lion 2010, serving as the Marine Forces Reserve advanced party logistics officer, anti-terrorism force protection officer and command translator.

An ordnance officer in the Marine Corps Reserve by trade, Flynn's fluency in French has enabled him to facilitate clear communication between Marine Corps leaders and their Moroccan hosts.

In addition, he has worked with various Marine Corps commands and U.S. Embassy staff to ensure the smooth offload and transport of troops, equipment and supplies.

Essentially, Flynn has been one of the Marine Corps' main "go-to guys" since arriving here in April.

More than 700 active duty and reserve Marines and sailors from Marine Forces Reserve are scheduled to deploy to Agadir between mid-May and late June for this bilateral exercise between the Moroccan Army and the U.S. military.

African Lion, a key theater security cooperation exercise led by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa, is conducted annually to further develop joint and combined capabilities in the northern Africa region.

"This exercise is important for two reasons," said Flynn. "First, it solidifies the friendship between the United States and Morocco. This is a long-standing relationship, and the Moroccans are very proud of the fact that they were the first country in the world to recognize the United States' independence from Great Britain. Second, the interoperability of our forces is crucial for security in the Trans-Saharan region, where many terrorist threats exist. What the Moroccans do and how effectively they operate directly affects the security of the United States and its other allies."

Flynn explained that one of the reasons this exercise has been so successful is the level of maturity and diversity of experience which reserve Marines bring to the table.

This is Flynn's second time here, as he served as the command translator in 2007, when the exercise was conducted at the battalion level.

This time, however, African Lion is much more robust, with a brigade-sized element and the integration of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force National Guardsmen, in addition to active duty sailors and Marine Corps units.

Different elements of the exercise are being conducted in various locations over more than a thousand square miles.

With so many moving parts in the exercise, it is vital that U.S. Forces have French language translators who understand both Moroccan culture and large logistical muscle movements to identify potential issues before they arise and interrupt training.

Flynn learned to speak fluent French as a result of his father's duty assignment in France when he was young. Flynn's mother, who was French, ensured that her son was raised bilingual, and Flynn remained in France for ten years, attending middle and high school. He then returned to the United States after graduation to fulfill a life-long dream.

"I always loved the Marine Corps, ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper," said Flynn, whose father was an Air Force military policeman for 28 years. "I always told myself, 'when it quits being fun, I'll get out.' Well, I'm still enjoying it, especially here in Morocco."

Flynn's career started at Parris Island, South Carolina in 1981, when he enlisted as an armorer and infantryman, serving seven years on active duty before earning a reserve warrant in 1990.

As a warrant officer in the reserves, Flynn has seen duty as the officer in charge of a 4th Force Service Support Group truck platoon in Augusta, Ga., from 1992 to 1995 and tank platoon commander from 1997 to 2001 at Company D, 8th Tank Battalion in Eastover, S.C.

He went on to serve as maintenance officer of 4th Maintenance Battalion in Charlotte, S.C. before coming to the Headquarters Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group (now 4th Marine Logistics Group) in New Orleans in 2003 to work in the S-2 intelligence office and perform anti-terrorism force protection duties.

Hungry for an overseas deployment, Flynn volunteered to go with 4th FSSG to Djibouti, Africa from 2003 to 2004 to run security for the Marines at Camp Lemonnier and at the military airport there. He then deployed to Iraq with 4th Civil Affairs Group to conduct training and logistical support for the fledgling Iraqi Police.

In 2007, Flynn reported to Marine Forces Europe to teach the Marine Corps Planning Process, run command post exercises, mentor host-nation officers and translate for theater security cooperation operations in various Francophone countries in the Trans-Sahara region.

This diversity of experience has made Flynn the right man for a pivotal job in a region of the world where U.S. cooperation with allied partners is vital to the security of Americans back home.

"His knowledge and personality have been key in paving the way to ensuring a smooth transition of the task force into Morocco," said Colonel Anthony Fernandez, the African Lion 2010 task force commander, who has spent 24 of his 28 years in the Corps as a reserve Marine.

"He's got a way with the Moroccans," said Fernandez. "They like him. They listen to him. They know to go to him if there are any potential problems. The relationships he's developed with Moroccan leadership in the Southern Zone have been instrumental in our success here."

See related article:
Marines, Moroccans Grapple Toward Closer Ties during African Lion 2010
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