Senegalese Commandos complete training
Senegalese Companie de Fusilier Marine Commandos celebrated the conclusion of a five-week training engagement with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa Marines and Sailors.
Senegalese Marine Commandos complete U.S. Marine, Sailor training
Senegalese Companie de Fusilier Marine Commandos celebrated the conclusion of a five-week training engagement with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa Marines and Sailors during a graduation ceremony in Toubacouta, Senegal, May 9, 2013.
The graduation was to recognize more than 45 commandos who completed the light infantry tactics and maritime security operations engagement. The engagement was designed to help them prepare for possible deployments and maintain security within Senegal.
It was hot and dry as U.S. Marines and Sailors stood in formation alongside their commando students near the banks of the river they had been training on for a month.
“We’re finally here on graduation day,” said Maj. Mike Berentson, Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa team leader from Burlington, Wash.
“I know it has been a long five weeks since we started,” he said. “I want to thank you for your enthusiasm and motivation. From day one in the swimming pool to now, you have made great improvements.”
Those improvements were measured during the final week of training where a final exercise tested the commandos’ retention of the training. It was here the instructors took a step back and observed the actions and decisions of the commandos. In some scenarios the instructors played the part of antagonists.
“We had trained them in basic operations and basic scenarios using a crawl, walk, run approach and this was the walk phase,” said Navy Lt. Jonathan Piaz, Special-Purpose Marine MAGTF Africa 13 riverine detachment officer-in-charge.
“I think they did extremely well,” said the Cathedral City, Calif., native. “Especially at the individual level, which was the crawl phase. They grasped the concepts, understood them and applied them. It got to a point where they were correcting their own mistakes and taking the reigns.”
Piaz explained this initiative was expected to return with the commandos to their respective units and continue to train those who could not attend the five-week course. This way they can continue to improve their readiness on their own, so when the next course is available they will be ready for more advanced training.
“We’ve only been out here a short time but we’ve had a lot of positive experiences and have come away better,” Piaz said.
Before the conclusion of the ceremony, Berentson offered a final piece of advice to the commandos.
“Now we are sorry to say goodbye and wish we could stay,” he said. ”That doesn’t mean the training stops. The training must continue. Take what you have learned and continue to practice and train. Know your strengths and weaknesses and build those weaknesses and turn them into strengths.”
Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa strengthens U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and U.S. Africa Command’s ability to assist partner nations. The approximately 150 U.S. Marines and Sailors conduct security force assistance, military-to-military engagements and are trained to provide support to crisis response.