News: Liberian Coast Guard enhances maritime security capacity
Story by Capt. Bryon McGarry
MONROVIA, Liberia - Liberian Coast Guardsmen participated in a boarding officer training course provided by the U.S. Embassy-Monrovia at the Liberian Coast Guard Base Feb. 6.
U.S. Embassy-Monrovia, in coordination with U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and Operation ONWARD LIBERTY, partner with the Government of Liberia to enhance the operational capabilities of the Liberian Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of Liberia. ONWARD LIBERTY is a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led operation comprised of joint U.S. servicemembers who mentor and advise the AFL in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable, and respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law. OOL’s goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.
U.S. Embassy-Monrovia enlisted the assistance of a U.S. Coast Guard mobile training team from the International Training Detachment of Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, Va., to train more than 20 Liberian Coast Guardsmen on the various facets of maritime security surrounding boarding of vessels.
The first phase of the course curriculum involved USCG trainers instructing LCG trainees. The second phase puts LCG trainees in trainer roles themselves to ensure thorough understanding of the material and to enable the LCG to pass knowledge gleaned from the course onto future LCG trainees. The third and final phase, a Joint Boarding Officer Course, is a culmination of the first two instruction phases and involves newly trained LCG trainers providing instruction on maritime boarding techniques to fellow Liberian Coast Guardsmen and students from the armed forces of the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. The training courses are scheduled to run through Feb. 22.
LCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Mulbah Bewowu said the opportunity to train his fellow Coast Guardsmen in the second phase of training has equipped him for success. “For you to know the material, you need to teach it,” he said. “You gain a truer understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and can see where you need to improve. I’m excited to use these skills operationally.”
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Will Flores, MTT trainer, said the curriculum goes beyond just providing an understanding of basic boarding skills. “We want to impart an emphasis on safety in everything they do,” he said. “I personally talk a lot about some of the more complicated situations I’ve been in on deployments, and I feel it’s important to relay my experiences so they can avoid similar problems and stay safe.”
U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Tim Tolliver, MTT lead instructor, said he was impressed from the start of training with the level of motivation the LCG trainees exhibited. “From the very first day, they’ve been energetic and ready to learn,” he said. “The LCG is still in its infancy, but as they gain more tools like the knowledge they’re getting from this course, they’re going to continue to build capacity.”
Toliver added that the LCG is modeled after the USCG, which makes the training material easier to relate. Several of the LCG trainees had also previously attended USCG training schools at CGTC Yorktown and were familiar with many of the concepts and terminology used in the training.
USCG MTTs have also been a key contributor to building LCG capacity. Liberian Coast Guardsmen have participated in more than 10 courses provided by USCG MTTs on topics like basic outboard motor maintenance and small boat operations since the LCG’s inception in February 2010.
In their roles as maritime security trainers, Toliver and his fellow USCG co-trainers are constantly traversing the globe. Over the past year, Toliver has been deployed approximately 175 days and has trained security personnel in seven countries. He noted that the LCG is among the most dedicated and energetic organizations he’s worked with.
“Considering the limitations of youth and experience they have, the collective outlook and desire to achieve these Coast Guardsmen exhibit is phenomenal,” he said. “I feel that their professional drive will continue to serve them well and they’ll continue to grow their capacity for the future.”