ST. LOUIS, Senegal -- A pair of Senegalese Compagnie Fusilier de Marin Commandos assume ready positions at the starting line, a U.S. Marine shouts “Go!” and the race to finish a critical skills test is on, in St. Louis, Senegal, July 2, 2015.
More than 15 U.S. Marines, sailors, and coast guardsmen assigned to Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are working with the Fusilier Marins for a six-week long engagement to enhance their partner-nation’s small-unit infantry tactics and small-boat operations.
The Fusilier Marins are a Marine-equivalent unit in the Senegalese armed forces, who already have a solid understanding of infantry and boat techniques. During this specific competition, U.S. personnel wanted to stress the importance of a properly functioning weapon and medical care in an environment where time is paramount. The basic skills necessary to conduct these operations were tested in a competition with more than 30 Senegalese participants.
“The more you train yourself, the more proficient you become,” said Lance Cpl. Bobby Bustamante, an infantry skills instructor with the unit. “It might end up saving your buddy’s life.”
The Fusilier Marins paired up and prepared to race each other in a series of events. The exercise started with two members of the Fusilier Marins navigating their way to a simulated casualty, simultaneously conducting weapons drills. After stopping at two stations and quickly reloading, the pair would gain fire superiority and apply a tourniquet to a simulated casualty at the third station. The competition concluded with the team carrying the casualty back to the starting line.
Through competition, the Senegalese received a glimpse of how important time is when conducting medical care and proper weapons handling techniques in a combat environment.
“I don’t think you can train enough on combat lifesaver skills and [weapons] drills,” said Bustamante.