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    NAVSCIATTS Conducts Inaugural Lake Chad Basin Initiative

    NAVSCIATTS Conducts Inaugural Lake Chad Basin Initiative

    Photo By Angela Fry | 171103-N-TI567-050 STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – International students participate...... read more read more

    STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS, UNITED STATES

    12.07.2017

    Story by Angela Fry 

    Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School

    STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - With a focus on trans-regional threats, increasing partner nation abilities and interoperability, the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School recently completed its inaugural iteration of the Lake Chad Basin Initiative at its facilities on the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

    Demonstrating a proven methodology for developing partner nation capacity and capabilities, NAVSCIATTS’ first semester for Fiscal Year 2018 featured almost 50 security force professionals from Cameroon, Chad and Niger; all countries located in the embattled Lake Chad Basin region of west-central Africa.

    “Between April and June 2017, there have been more than 200 Boko Haram attacks within the Lake Chad Basin area,” stated CW4 Craig Griffin, NAVSCIATTS training officer. “The four countries within this area, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, are taking the initiative to protect their countries while Boko Haram steps up its recruiting within the area. Shortly after these students arrived at Stennis, the U.S. experienced those attacks, as we lost four of our own Army special operations forces along with five Nigerien counterparts.”

    Offering 20 formal courses of instruction, the Naval Special Warfare command incorporated seven tactical, operational and strategic courses into the iteration: Strategic Leaders International Course, Outboard Motor Maintenance and Overhaul, Technical Welding and Applied Repairs, Instructor Development Course, Patrol Craft Officer – Riverine, International Tactical Communications Course and International Small Arms Maintenance.

    “The seven courses implemented in this initiative covered the full spectrum of operations,” explained Griffin, who has served almost 30 years in the U.S. Navy, 24 of those years as a special operations combatant-craft crewman. “It was important for us to create this initiative using the total package approach, which is the only way to make this training a success.”

    “On top of fielding the same mud boats and radios to the countries within Lake Chad through funding provided by the Department of State, NAVSCIATTS has provided these partner nations with the proper training to use the equipment, the right tools to fix the equipment, and education regarding proper upkeep and storage. The training has given them the ability to maintain their outboard motors, repair their hulls through fiberglass repair training and provide proper maintenance on their weapons systems. Through the Strategic Leaders Course, senior level officers received training from a regional approach and were able to witness the fruits of their junior troops’ labor through the operational and tactical courses.”

    While future plans include mobile training team engagements within the Lake Chad Basin region, Griffin expressed the importance of training conducted within the U.S. “CONUS-based training was imperative,” he expressed. “We were able to bring them to a neutral environment where the students were able to remove any barriers and focus simply on the training.”

    With $2.3 million in Peacekeeping Operations funding through FY22 through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Griffin explained the importance of recognizing any training shortfalls. “For the future, we have to recognize our shortfalls. We already know that future planning should include diesel engine training for generators, intel fusion training and also Unmanned Aerial Systems training. That will be addressed in LCBI 2.0, here at NAVSCIATTS’ facilities. As we are able to train the trainers here at NAVSCIATTS, we will take the training into the countries. Using the “train the trainer” approach, we are creating force multipliers throughout the Lake Chad Basin area in order to set these countries up for success.”

    As the type units from the Lake Chad Basin region varied from land and amphibious, to special operations forces from various branches of service, the level of prior training across the forces was an issue that NAVSCIATTS instructors addressed when creating training programs for the students.

    “The LCBI operators participating in the training had many different backgrounds and levels of experience,” explained a special operations combatant-craft crewman currently serving as a riverine instructor at NAVSCIATTS. “Some have been in the teams at an operational level for many years with some boat experience, with others having never even ridden a bicycle before. Taking all these people with varying skill sets and forging them into a cohesive unit in a short eight weeks is challenge in itself; add to that, you are requiring them to drive and shoot weapons from high-speed vessels with precision,” the instructor continued.

    The instructor, who has served as a SWCC operator for 10 years, further explained the necessity to shift from a “train the trainer” to a “train the fighter” mentality. “This shift provides us with students who have a desire to stay engaged and motivated during the training because their lives depend on it,” he explained. “With LCBI, we are giving operators the tools necessary to take the fight to the enemy and not the other way around.”

    The 12-year naval veteran explained that the one of the most important elements of this initiative was the ability to tailor the courses of instruction to the specific countries involved in the training.

    “At NAVSCIATTS, we have a basic course of instruction that we teach to bring operators to a certain level of proficiency in order to secure and defend their native lands against all enemies. What was unique about LCBI, is we were able to tailor our course of instruction to fit the needs and demands of the real-world threat environment that they see on a daily basis. We were even able to bring in specific mud boats to integrate into the training that more closely resembled the craft that they will be working on when they return to their own countries.”

    NAVSCIATTS, which serves as U.S. Special Operations Command’s international training center, typically offers courses in English and Spanish to its partner nation military and law enforcement agency personnel. With French being the primary shared language within the Lake Chad Basin region, NAVSCIATTS cemented its position as the premier “by, with and through” unit within the Department of Defense, by instructing all LCBI courses in French.

    “Missions fail and missions succeed because of the inability or ability to communicate,” explained NAVSCIATTS Cmdr. John Green. “LCBI is not only the first regional iteration that NAVSCIATTS has conducted. It is also the first semester to be conducted in French.”

    “This mission would not have succeeded without our 10 partner nation instructors from the special operations commands of France, Belgium and Canada,” added Green, who has served more than 15 years as a Navy SEAL. “They are not merely instructors or interpreters. They are now part of the NAVSCIATTS family.”

    This regional training initiative also gave the NAVSCIATTS command the opportunity to work with personnel from NSW’s Cultural Engagement Unit, a unit established to assist in operations conducted in complex overseas environments through the use of language and regional experts. Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Ela Nsa, a Cameroonian-born logistics specialist assigned to the CEU, spent nine weeks at the schoolhouse serving as instructor and interpreter with the International Small Arms Maintenance course.

    “I am very glad to have been given this opportunity to perform as an instructor and interpreter for the Lake Chad Basin training,” explained Ela Nsa, who enlisted into the U.S. Navy in 2013. “This opportunity has really provided me with the feeling that I am serving my new country, while also helping my native country of Cameroon and all of its partners to defeat their enemies.”

    Ela Nsa, who arrived in the United States on Dec. 29, 2012, was born in the village of Nkomakak in Cameroon. The 37-year-old sailor, who carries around a vacuum-sealed American flag in his car to express his pride in citizenship and service, knows all too well the value of military training within the states.

    “The fact that these troops from Cameroon, Chad and Niger are training together in the United States will assist in building a strong network among them,” Ela Nsa expressed. “The fact that some also bring established friendships and familiarization with shared interests and issues are benefits for this training evolution, as it will reinforce future troop interaction and increase teamwork for mission success.”

    Those future relationships and teamwork are instrumental as these security forces return home and return to the battlefields of their countries. “It was a very good idea to bring these troops together to train,” Ela Nsa explained. “They are all fighting against the same enemy and this training will provide them with more discipline, devotion to mission and motivation.”

    As the first iteration of LCBI completed with a formal graduation on Nov. 30, the way forward for NAVSCIATTS is to determine what the trans-regional issues are that affect each GCC. Whether it is the region of the Black Sea pertaining to Romania and Bulgaria, or narcotic/human trafficking within regions of the U.S. Northern and Southern Commands, NAVSCIATTS continues to plan regional initiatives for Fiscal Year 2019.

    NAVSCIATTS currently offers 21 courses of instruction, including its Partner Nation Instructor Program, in support of Foreign Security Assistance and Geographic Commanders’ Theater Security Cooperation priorities. Since 1963, almost 12,000 students from 114 Partner Nations have graduated from NAVSCIATTS. For more news from Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, visit https://www.socom.mil/navsoc/NAVSCIATTS/.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.07.2017
    Date Posted: 12.07.2017 15:01
    Story ID: 257832
    Location: STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS, US 

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