News: Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Force Training Enhances Local Capabilities
MORONI, Union of Comoros – Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command recently conducted a pilot training project in the Union of Comoros in East Africa teaching the basics of Maritime Civil Affairs and Maritime Security to Comoran military.
While providing Maritime Security training to foreign militaries is not something new for MCAST Command - the Virginia-based command has been training nations throughout the world in defense of their harbors and ports since 2007 - teaching Maritime Civil Affairs to host nation forces is a new frontier for the command.
“Civic assistance knowledge and capabilities are becoming increasingly important for all security force providers, not just U.S. forces,” said Capt. Frank Hughlett, MCAST Command commanding officer. “Offering traditional operations, safety and security courseware packaged with civil military operations learning objectives will help our partner nations’ ability to conduct full spectrum operations independent of outside assistance.”
Thirty-eight Comorians, primarily military officers, were trained over the two-week course in preparing for humanitarian disasters, working with civilian organizations, conducting civic assessments, providing useful recommendations to their commanders, negotiating and how to train others. Practical application included establishing crowd control distribution points and civilian-to-military liaison posts, conducting facility assessments (including an ancient palace for use as a field clinic), and negotiating with local civilians for the use of privately owned facilities.
The emphasis of the training was on developing organizational skills and enhancing the trainees’ ability to connect resources to populations in need. Many will deploy to Somalia later in the year to participate in peacekeeping operations. Therefore, the training was tailored to accordingly to include Somali phrases, culture and history to emphasize that acceptance as a foreigner begins with respecting culture.
“One of the challenges is letting the local forces do the work,” said Lt. Timm Heisey, MCAST Command strategy and policy officer. “When a team like the Comorians goes to Somalia they are there to support, and so preparing them to take that kind of a roll is vital to their success both in interacting with the local civilians and in building strong relationships with their Somali counterparts.”
Comoros was a good testing ground for integrating MCAST Command’s security force assistance curriculum with the basics of Maritime Civil Affairs given its continued participation in the Eastern Africa Standby Force. The EASF is composed of civilian, police and military elements and is one of five regional brigades designated by the African Union that comprises the African Standy Force to provide peace support operations throughout the continent.
MCAST Command was formed in 2009 from the merger of the former Maritime Civil Affairs Group and Expeditionary Training Command, under the guidance of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and is homeported onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va. For more information about MCAST Command, contact Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Mallett, Command public affairs officer at (757) 381-4450 x369 or Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org