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    US, French warships meet at sea, conduct training

    Joint Terminal Attack Controllers Bi-Lateral Training

    Photo By Sgt. Dani Zunun | A joint terminal attack controller from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Joey Mendez 

    24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

    U.S. 5th FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS—The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group took advantage of a rare opportunity to conduct bilateral training with French service members from the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91), the flagship of the French Navy, in the Gulf of Aden, Jan. 31 to Feb. 4.

    The 24th MEU and Iwo Jima ARG are deployed as America’s premiere crisis response force, maintaining regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. Charles de Gaulle and the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the flagship of the Iwo Jima ARG, took advantage of being in the same location simultaneously and the unique opportunity to strengthen relationships.

    During the five-day event, the two units conducted close air support exercises, a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel exercise and medical evacuation training. The MEU/ARG also hosted the commander of the carrier strike group “Charles de Gaulle” for several hours aboard the Iwo Jima while each ship swapped a number of Sailors and Marines to tour the other’s warship.

    The first training event took place between joint terminal attack controllers on land in Djibouti.

    “We conducted close air support training with French aircraft,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Boyd, a Force Reconnaissance Marine with the MEU’s Maritime Raid Force. “Working with the French went very well. Obviously, there is a little bit of a language barrier, but they are proficient at joint-close air support procedures and both the French and U.S. personnel are getting good training out of this.”

    During the ongoing close air support exercises, the Americans and French teamed up in another part of Djibouti for a TRAP exercise.

    “The purpose of our TRAP mission was to go in and recover simulated isolated French personnel in Djibouti, collect physical intelligence and equipment, and provide first aid care, if necessary, until we could get the personnel to a higher echelon of medical treatment,” said Cpl. Nathan P. Sangphim, a Mortarman with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th MEU, who was the first Marine to rendezvous with the French service members on the ground.
    Sangphim had partake of TRAP training before but had a different mentality going into the evolution due to it taking place in a foreign country and with a foreign military.

    “Working with the French made me go in with a different mindset. I felt as if it was more of a realistic scenario,” said Sangphim. “I was really impressed working with them. They did everything the same way we’re used to and they were very friendly. I definitely look forward to working with French forces again.”

    A select group of Marines and Sailors had the opportunity to visit the French carrier for a few hours, while French sailors came aboard the Iwo Jima.

    The visit to the Charles de Gaulle began with lunch and coffee, then a demonstration of room-clearing tactics. They toured the ship’s bridge and observed French jets launched and recovered on the flight deck.

    “Going aboard the Charles de Gaulle was a new and exciting experience. In many ways, it was the same as the Iwo Jima, at the same time so different. [The French] were extremely inviting and welcoming toward us,” said Lance Cpl. Logan Twitty, a food service specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th MEU. “Being a cook, my favorite part of the tour was first the food—it was full of flavor. My second favorite part was watching the jets get catapulted off the flight deck.”

    The Charles de Gaulle continued on its journey while the Iwo Jima remained near the Gulf of Aden, prepared for a contingency mission. While both ships continue on their deployment, the 24th MEU and Iwo Jima ARG could join French forces for training events in the future, building on the relationships they have already established. For now, the MEU/ARG team is focused and looking forward to supporting a variety of potential missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.



    Date Taken: 02.18.2015
    Date Posted: 02.18.2015 18:03
    Story ID: 154779

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