SIGONELLA, Italy -- Countries in Africa with access to coastal and inland waterways like Cameroon have placed great emphasis on riverine operations and patrolling to help ensure the safety and security of their border.
Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from Security Cooperation Team 5 Bravo, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa, completed a theater security cooperation exercise with members of the Cameroonian Naval Commando Company during the month of September.
The skills and tactics shared during the engagement can help develop interoperability between different services. The purpose of the engagement was to increase overall proficiency in riverine operations, patrolling and infantry tactics, as well as noncommissioned officer leadership.
“We showed the [COPALCO] coxswains how to do tighter turns and travel in various formations, such as the column and wedge, which can be used to maximize firepower and safety of boats and personnel,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Yosida Phaypanya.
Maneuvering in the river, while simultaneously fighting against currents and other natural obstacles, is a key component of maritime interdiction operations. It creates the ability for the COPALCO to react in an instant, which can assist with combating drug smuggling and pursuing individuals entering the country illegally.
The team started with marksmanship training, ensuring all safety precautions were taken, and built upon the fundamentals leading up to a live-fire range and timed shooting competition between the NCOs of the COPALCO. This gave the Marines of SP-MAGTF Africa an opportunity to see the unique capabilities the COPALCO NCOs bring to the fight.
Cpls. Micah Gray and Isaac Althoff (two coaches with SCT-5B) even gave the commands “Shoot. Move. Fire.” in French.
Riverine training concluded with a final exercise, combining insertion and extraction of troops, river formations and patrolling on shore. The final exercise was followed by the presentation of a ceremonial “oar” to the COPALCO, which represented the Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen of SCT-5B and the service camaraderie developed during training.
“By presenting the oar it demonstrated the partnership we gained at the completion of the exercise,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Kohn, a Clermont, Fla., native and officer-in-charge of Security Cooperation Team 5B. “It definitely was an experience, not only were we able to share some of our knowledge, but I think more than anything my team was able to take away an experience they wouldn’t find anywhere else.”
Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa conducts theater security cooperation and military-to-military engagements while providing U.S. Africa Command a rapid-response capability in North and West Africa.