TOUBACOUTA, Senegal – September 16, 2015– U.S. Marines and Senegalese military members spent a week sharpening their infantry skills in Toubacouta, Senegal, Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2015.
Marines with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa worked with their Compagnie Fusilier de Marin Commando counterparts on everything from the planning process to how troops move and why. These skills are necessary to help the Senegalese mitigate illicit trafficking and maintain regional stability in the area.
This engagement is an evolution of the multiple training progressions the COFUMACO and Marines have shared together in the past.
“In this week’s training we have learned a lot of things,” said Senegalese Pvt. Jean Pierre Thiare, who previously trained twice with U.S. Marines. “They are things we have not experienced before. It is very good training that we can use to add to the techniques we have and apply it when we are on the front or in a real situation.”
The Senegalese COFUMACO are equally a land and water-based fighting force, much like U.S. Marines. This is the latest rotation of Marines in Senegal exchanging maritime security force assistance tactics with the Senegalese.
“The Senegalese are really motivated,” said Cpl. Mario Montanez, a machine gunner and primary instructor with the U.S. Marines. “They are a smart group of individuals. They are really energetic and eager to learn.”
After seeing the COFUMACO’s drive, the Marines jumped into training with their counterparts, challenging them at every chance.
“Across the Marine Corps we learn from a crawl-walk-run method and we didn’t change anything here,” said Staff Sgt. James Renwand, course and team chief with the team. “We started off day one, introduction to buddy pairs. So you and your buddy, how do you move? How do you support one another? We built on that the next day with team movement. Now how do you move in a team? Then we started targeting small-unit leadership on the team level.”
The fifth and final day of infantry tactics was a culminating exercise that tested skills in notional, real-time scenarios.
“I like working with the Marines because they are respectful and they respect their jobs and they do everything to make it correct,” said Thiare. “They are very tactful in time management. Those are the important things I have noticed in other trainings as well as this one.”
As the final training event for this rotation nears, COFUMACO will conduct an exercise that challenges all the skillsets, land and water based, that they have worked on with the Marines and Coast Guard. It is these skillsets that are essential for Senegalese to keep stability in the region.
“I don’t think we only came here to better the COFUMACO. The US Marines coming out of it are definitely significantly better and better equipped,” said Renwand. “It has been an amazing experience.”