News: Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 Marines train with Companie de Fusilier Marine Commandos
Story by Cpl. Ryan Joyner
THIÈS, Senegal – Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 recently completed the first week of training as part of the fourth iteration of maritime assistance force engagements this year with the Companie de Fusilier Marine Commandos in Thiès, Senegal.
As part of a four-week engagement that covers infantry tactics, small-boat operations and maritime security operations, the team of reserve Marines from various backgrounds and skill sets used their experience and knowledge to train with the Senegalese commandos in the fundamentals of marksmanship and combat shooting.
“Beginning with the basics is key to creating a solid foundation for the commandos to build upon,” said Sgt. James Thonus, assistant team chief from Chester, N.Y.
The Marines from SP-MAGTF Africa 13’s Theater Security Team 3 began with classes in basic marksmanship, starting with breath control, sight picture, sight alignment and trigger control before having the Senegalese zero their weapons. Zeroing is the process of aligning the weapon’s sights with the point of impact of the rounds it fires.
Having Marines on the team that hold the billet of marksmanship instructor benefited the training and Senegalese said Thonus.
Each day, the training progressed in technique and skill. The commandos began firing at close range and then gradually moved farther away until they were firing from the back of the range. By the end, the Senegalese were hitting targets from distances greater than 200 yards in unfavorable weather conditions.
“We want the Senegalese to learn and challenge themselves at different distances and with different drills,” added Thonus.
The team utilized steel plates when the commandos were shooting long distances so the Senegalese could hear the distinctive ping when the round impacted.
After the first two days of firing on a known-distance range with the emphasis on basic and primary marksmanship, the training took a more combat-oriented focus for the remainder of the week.
The commandos received classes on immediate actions and remedial actions in the case of weapons malfunctions as well as speed and tactical reloading.
At the end of the week and after rehearsals on the movement-under-fire range, the Senegalese ran through the course with live ammunition. Utilizing the buddy-rush method, one commando would rush toward the targets the Marines had set up while a ‘buddy’ provided covering fire. The original commando would then take cover and provide covering fire while his partner advanced. The commandos bounded their way through the range ultimately destroying their simulated enemy.
After the course of fire was completed the Marines observed while the Senegalese competed against each other in various drills and at various distances to reiterate what had been covered during the training.
Commandos and Marines alike sacrificed their own free time after the training was complete each day to continue practicing the techniques. The Senegalese noncommissioned officers worked especially hard in order to increase their proficiency.
“It was great to see the noncommissioned officers take what we went over during the night and see them implement the knowledge and skills with their men the next day,” said Cpl. Skyler Bowden, a radio operator and marksmanship coach with the task force.
Not only did Team 3 provide instruction, but they also setup and ran the ranges the commandos were firing. The Marines did everything from building and maintaining target stands to creating courses of fire and, through the use of interpreters, giving commands to load and fire.
“I think the Senegalese really took quite a bit from this. It was clearly visible, the amount of improvement they made over the course of the week,” said Thonus.
The Marines of Team 3 will continue to work with the Senegalese through the month of December. For the remainder of the training engagement, which will take place in Toubacouta, Senegal, the Marines will focus on infantry tactics while also adding in maritime and riverine tactics training.
This work, Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 Marines train with Companie de Fusilier Marine Commandos, by Cpl Ryan Joyner, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.