News: Moroccan, Marine marksmanship training broadens horizons during African Lion '10
Story by Sgt. Whitney Houston
By U.S. Army Sgt. Whitney Houston
AGADIR, Morocco - The joint weapons training being conducted as part of Exercise African Lion 2010 continued at Moroccan Military Base Tifnit as Marines serving with Military Police Company, Headquarters Battalion, 4th Marine Division of St. Paul, Minn., and Company F, Anti-terrorism Bn., 4th Marine Div. of Lafayette, La., conducted urban combat marksmanship training with Moroccan soldiers May 19.
The Moroccans showed particular interest in the marksmanship training because much of their prior weapons training here has been based on targets at known and expected distances as opposed to what one would encounter in real combat situations.
"The Moroccans are used to shooting known distance targets," said Sgt. Christopher Schiff of New Orleans, an infantryman serving with Company F, Anti-terrorism Bn., who conducted the training. "What we're doing is teaching them how to operate if a target appears at close proximity, and how to engage that target, and do it effectively."
The Moroccan soldiers showed a lot of motivation as they received this up-to-date training incorporated from lessons learned by the Marines from almost a decade of experience in urban combat.
"We are using things now that we've learned in different theatres of operation like Iraq and Afghanistan," Schiff said. "We're teaching the Moroccans how to perform in an urban environment, and I find it really amazing that they're so willing and able to subject themselves to any training that we do."
Reciprocity is central to the training and to Exercise African Lion in general. Just as the Marines train Moroccans in close-quarters marksmanship, the Marines receive weapons familiarization training on the AK-47 from the Moroccans which is their primary weapon of choice.
"A lot of the junior Marines have not used the AK's before and knowing how it works and fires will make them more well-rounded Marines," said Staff Sgt. Jason Odit of Baton Rouge, who serves with the Anti-terrorism Bn. as an infantry platoon sergeant.
During the exercise, the commander of the 4th Marine Division, Brig. Gen. James Lariviere of Springfield, Va., stopped by to greet the Marines in the field and see the training being conducted.
"It's a good mix as we learn from the Moroccans and the Moroccans learn from us," said Lariviere about the training. "They've been friends to the United States since we declared our independence, and it's very important that we maintain that relationship so that we can work together and be interoperable."
Positive attitudes on both sides have helped the Marines and Moroccan soldiers overcome the most difficult hardship encountered during their time together: the language barrier.
"The language barrier is the biggest challenge that we're having," Schiff said. "But we've found soldiers in their ranks that speak English really well, and so we've been able to push through that."
As the Marines and Moroccan soldiers have pushed through the communication barrier and shared common hardships together, the combined training has proved to broaden understanding on both ends.
"Every time I train with a foreign service I feel like I take something from it, and I've implemented things from foreign services as I've been coming up through the ranks," said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Bradley of Knoxville, Tenn., who serves with the Anti-terrorism Bn. "It broadens their horizons as well as ours."
This work, Moroccan, Marine marksmanship training broadens horizons during African Lion '10, by SSG Whitney Houston, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.