NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy – After working to build the capacity of the Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF) for 10 weeks, a squad-sized team with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 14 returned to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, April 13, 2014.
The Marines with the task force advised the BNDF in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), focusing on logistics and engineering, combat life-saving courses, basic marksmanship, communications, and vehicle movement and maintenance.
AMISOM was created in January 2007 as an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations.
Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa is comprised of six theater security cooperation teams and is responsible for supporting U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa and U.S. Africa Command’s ability to assist partner nations in addressing their security challenges.
The theater security cooperation mission in Burundi is one of SP-MAGTF Africa’s longest standing rotational missions. The team of 20 Marines partnered with about 160 Burundi soldiers.
“We conducted training for five different [military occupational specialties]: infantry, combat engineers, motor transport, communications and an intensive combat life-saver course,” said 2nd Lt. Liam Thompson, the assistant team leader for the Burundi theater security cooperation team.
He continued that he was proud of “being able to help build their capacity to fight in Somalia and helping to make a difference that way.”
Thompson, a native of Palo Alto, Calif., noted that his counterparts within the BNDF were eager to partner with the Marines and were “very willing to work with us to try and make the training work.”
Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 14 is the newest rotation of Marines and sailors to arrive at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, to stage and prepare for theater security cooperation missions into various countries in Africa. This iteration is comprised of Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, permanently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.