News: Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa 13 prepares BNDF for future engagements
Story by Cpl. Ryan Joyner
NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy – The Burundi National Defense Force’s 3rd Sapper Company recently completed 10 weeks of training provided by Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 in Bujumbura, Burundi.The team of Marines and sailors provided a great range of training for the BNDF soldiers and are slated to conduct another iteration of the training engagement later this year.
During the past weeks, the service members from both countries have worked hard, advising and building interoperability and beneficial relationships with one another.
“To teach a subject you have to be very knowledgeable and [teaching] reinforces the experience and skills of the Marines,” said Maj. Matthew Berthinet, team leader with the task force from Reading, Pa.
With the nature of the BNDF company and the missions they could possibly be tasked with, the Marines and sailors provided the BNDF soldiers with varied skills and knowledge including combat marksmanship, first-aid, basic infantry skills, and engineering skills. The BNDF soldiers also learned techniques to counter improvised explosive devices.
“The Burundians have made such advancement from where they were when we first began training to now,” said Gunnery Sgt. David Ash, a team chief with Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa 13.
The task force is primarily staffed from more than 30 reserve units from across the United States bringing additional skills and experience to train the BNDF soldiers.
Although they trained roughly 160 soldiers, the Marines and sailors were still able to pass vast amounts of knowledge and skills to the Burundians.
“We had two weeks of specific job training for soldiers in their respective designations,” said Ash, from Charlotte, N.C.
The training the Marines and sailors shared with the BNDF will assist them in their future operations with African Union Mission in Somalia.
“A lot of the Burundians have been to Somalia before and understand the importance of the training we are providing,” said Berthinet. “They wish that they had received this knowledge prior to having gone to Somalia the first time.”
The training allowed the Marines and sailors to strengthen and hone their own skills as well.
“Working with the soldiers, we see different ways of doing things. It allows us to learn from them as well,” said Cpl. William Lewis, motor vehicle operator from Baltimore, Md.
The task force works with partner nations in order to assist U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and U.S. Africa Command in strengthening and building relationships, increasing military capacity, and promoting a more stable region.
“The Marines are doing great things for the Burundian military,” said Sgt. Maj. Athanasios Verros, Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa 13 sergeant major from Philadelphia, Pa. “The Marines are very motivated, teaching and sharing with the Burundians.”