SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- Five Sailors made history when they concluded two training courses for Royal Cambodian Navy officers Nov. 13,
This marked the first time the U.S. Navy's Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) Command has worked with its Cambodian counterparts.
U.S. Sailors, assigned to the Security Force Assistance Detachment of MCAST, spent four weeks at Ream Naval Base teaching leadership principles and a "Train the Trainer" course to 20 Cambodian officers to expand their leadership skills and help them to become more effective instructors. The classes were requested by the Cambodian Navy as it prepares to induct 400 new recruits over the next year, the first new recruits their Navy has had in nearly 15 years.
"The Cambodian officers were very interested in learning how the U.S. Navy operates and they asked many questions on the leadership principles and instructor skills set forth in the course," said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Gavigan, commanding officer of Reserve Security Force Assistance Detachment and leader of the team, which included two chief and two first class petty officers.
"These Cambodian officers were very mature, and had on average had 30-plus years of experience in the Navy."
Translators helped Gavigan's team overcome the significant language barrier, and earning the trust of the Cambodian officers - most of who had little to no prior experience working with Americans - was equally important. Gavigan's team spent time building trust on a personal level in social settings such as at dinners and sports competitions.
"The Cambodian people are a very warm people that value hard work, honesty, and family," Gavigan said. "Working in Southeast Asia, there is a time to be direct and a time to infer ideas. During this trip, we learned a lot more about Khmer culture and how their society interacts with one another."
The training team's event marked the most recent exchange between the U.S. Navy and Royal Cambodian Navy. Since 2007, a handful of U.S. ships, including USS Essex (LHD-2), USS Mustin (DDG 89) and USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) have made port visits to Cambodia.
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