News: Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa 13 Marines continue partnership with BNDF
Story by Cpl. Ryan Joyner
BUJUMBURA, Burundi – Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 recently completed their final training engagement of 2013 with the Burundi National Defense Force.
The eight-week engagement provided a unique opportunity for the team of Marines and sailors to teach as well as learn from the soldiers of the BNDF.
The engagement helped prepare the soldiers for missions they could be tasked with while conducting operations in Somalia or the Central Africa Republic.
The engagement covered various skills and knowledge ranging from combat marksmanship and infantry tactics to tactical combat casualty care and engineering skills.
With the majority of the Marines and sailors on Theater Security Cooperation Team 1 coming from 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, training and working with the BNDF soldiers in both engineering and infantry skills allowed for the unique experience to teach to and learn from the Burundians.
“Not everyone on the team is an infantryman or combat engineer, so having those who aren’t go over the classes and teach lets us grow and learn just as much as the Burundians,” said Lewis from Baltimore.
Throughout the training there was no doubt a professional bond formed between the Marines and soldiers.
“With this being the second time our team has trained the soldiers there was a better understanding of how each other operates and the amount of knowledge we could transfer between counterparts was much greater,” said Sgt. Frederick Mayer, an infantry instructor with the team.
The camaraderie the two forces built during the engagement shone during the final two weeks, when the team of Marines assisted the Burundians as they built and loaded pallets of supplies and vehicles as well as issued out gear to the BNDF soldiers that were deploying in support of the African Union Mission in the Central African Republic.
“We spent weeks training these guys and became friends with most of them,” said Lewis. “To actually see them deploy and knowing that they will be able to get their mission done is a great feeling,” said Lewis.