THIES, Senegal -- Members of Senegal’s Compagnie Fusilier de Marin Commando and U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa combine forces during a four-week bilateral exercise to strengthen partner nation capabilities at Thies, Senegal, April 12 – May 9.
Marines and sailors with SPMAGTF-CR-AF Ground Combat Element served as instructors and led infantry based practical application exercises with the COFUMACO to better enhance their war fighting capabilities. The unit focused on reinforcing the importance of small unit leadership and tactics, while conducting live-fire ranges, known distance engagements, movement to contact drills, combat marksmanship program and squad-level maneuvers.
“Our team is here to help develop new combat procedures the COFUMACO can implement when dealing with enemy forces in a variety of deployed [environments],” said Staff Sgt. Frank Navratil, a team chief with the unit. “We’ve utilized separate ranges allowing them to execute these newly taught techniques and observed their performance to [detect any deficiencies] and correct them.”
Throughout the exercise, Marines evaluated the four COFUMACO squads on their proficiency regarding land navigation skills, patrolling techniques and the employment of the M60 machine gun and M16A2 rifle at known and unknown distances. The Marines also worked to build a cadre or proficient small unit leaders to reinforce the lessons learned during the training and bolster the COFUMACO’s ability to operate independently after departing their country.
“Practicing these combat skills [sharpens] that muscle memory on how to properly react in combat to engage hostile threats,” Navratil said. “Upholding these basic infantry fundamentals is crucial to making them that much better and proficient in their jobs if they find themselves in real world scenarios.”
This bilateral training afforded the two nations an opportunity to learn from one another. This was the first deployment for some of the Marines, allowing them to step away from their comfort zone and experience working with a foreign military. The unit ultimately discovered that by working together we advance shared goals and our commitment to work together as allies.
“No matter how experienced you may be, working with allies and learning their tactics provides leaders with more options to utilize on the battlefield,” said 1st Lt. David Beltz, theater security cooperation Senegal team leader. “Yearning for additional knowledge only strengthens the warfighter and makes the Marine Corps a more effective fighting organization.”
Both nations have a proud history of conducting these combined arms exercises. Over the years COFUMACO and the Marines have developed a robust relationship. They have grown together and share a partnership that is easily visible and exemplifies the embodiment of camaraderie.
“Since the first day, I have seen motivation on both sides, and I have felt the brotherhood,” said Capt. Goumalo Sall, a company commander with the COFUMACO. “On behalf of the COFUMACO and myself, I sincerely thank [the Marines] for everything they have taught us. We look forward to working with them again, it is always a pleasure.”