DOUALA, Cameroon (NNS) -- A Security Force Assistance (SFA) detachment from the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training command conducted a cooperative training engagement with the Cameroon navy July 12-23 at Douala Navy Base.
The mission of the four-man detachment was to support the Navy's directive of strengthening international relationships by collaborating with Cameroon sailors to develop and exchange tactics for conducting small boat operations in the waters surrounding the West African country.
"The objective was to exchange information on how to perform harbor security and build relationships to help strengthen our international maritime community," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Willie Donald, team leader, SFA detachment.
A group of 17 sailors from the Cameroon navy worked directly with the SFA detachment, including highly-trained units such as the Special Amphibious Battalion and Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), a special military unit established in 2001 to quell hostage-taking and looting by criminal gangs operating on Cameroon's borders. The BIR also works closely with the country's maritime security forces.
"What stood out the most to me was their professionalism and the knowledge they have," said Donald. "They are highly motivated, and you can tell that they are all very well-trained."
The collaborative exchange of information focused on small boat tactics such as mission planning, insertion and extraction of personnel, and escorting a high-value asset (HVA).
"To me, the most important part of the exchange was the HVA escort," said 2nd Lt. Pipwoh Yari, a platoon leader in the Cameroon BIR. "We are still developing proper tactics for escorting HVAs and it helped us very much to see how the U.S. Navy does this."
While the exchange of tactics generated returns on both sides, a larger purpose was also served.
"This mission is important because we will be familiar with their navy if something happens and we need to come here to assist them and vice versa if they need to work with our Navy to assist us," said Donald, who also stated that another cooperative exchange with the Cameroon navy is scheduled for later this year.
SFA detachments from the MCAST command collaborate with foreign militaries in support of security cooperation and foreign internal defense missions. The cooperative engagements include topics such as small boat operations and tactics, maritime combat operations, weapons handling, anti-terrorism and force protection, maintenance and construction, and officer and non-commissioned officer professional development and leadership. This training is one of many military-to-military exchanges planned in the coming years between MCAST and the U.S. Navy's strategic partners in Cameroon.
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