News: French army teaches 24th MEU Marines desert survival skills
Story by Lance Cpl. David Beall
Djibouti - The desert is an unforgiving and potentially lethal ecosystem; and where most Marines find themselves operating while deployed. This makes garnering basic desert survival skills essential to every Marine.
Marines with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, acquired the knowledge, confidence and experience of what it takes to survive in the dessert without the comfort of pre-cooked rations and canteens of water during a desert survival course March 11.
These Marines received a 24 hour course taught by French army, 5th Regiment instructors as part of their sustainment training package in Djibouti.
"A lot of times we find ourselves working independently from the rest of the BLT, if something were to ever go wrong, this gives the Marines the confidence to be able to survive if they were out on their own," said Gunnery Sgt. Devlin D. Root, platoon sergeant, 2nd LAR platoon, BLT 1/9, 24th MEU.
The classes covered techniques such as; capturing, preparing and cooking wildlife, water filtration and purification, booby trapping enemy forces and general desert survival skills.
"It was pretty shocking when we had to catch and clean our own food; I had never seen that done before, let alone performed it myself," said Sgt. Randall P. Moury, maintenance chief, 2nd LAR platoon, BLT 1/9, 24th MEU. "I figured the course would be just a bunch of classes, I didn't expect it to be so hands on."
The training was beneficial for most Marines; it's not often a Marine gets the chance to learn how to make water from a piece of plastic and some digging or how to set a trip wire with a grenade and some metal wire.
Along with the new skills and techniques Marines interacted and gained an invaluable experience working with foreign forces. Marines now better understand how to coexist and work with foreign military personnel, something that will be useful not only during this deployment, but for any future deployments.
"I feel that it is always good to keep good relations with the foreign nation forces, plus they know a lot more about the terrain and environment than we do so we were able to learn what they know and at the same time teach them some of the things we know," said Moury.
At the end of the course, both the U.S. Marines and French soldiers were able to go their separate ways having gained something.
"I think the training was a good thing, I really hope we taught them some things and we were able to learn a lot from them as well," said Damien Sailleau, instructor, 5th Regiment, French army. "I enjoyed meeting with so many Americans and being able to practice my language with them, it's just a pity that we only a short time together."
The 24th MEU is conducting sustainment training in Djibouti throughout March, rotating different sections through a cycle of live fire ranges and courses to ensure Marines retain skill-sets they developed prior to deployment.