VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) Command deployed mobile training teams (MTTs) to Cambodia throughout 2010 to provide leadership training and assist in the implementation of a training management system for the Royal Cambodian Navy's (RCN) first class of new recruits.
MCAST has been supporting the training mission since 1993.
The MTT has been in the Southeast Asian country working closely with the RCN and the country's National Committee on Maritime Security. The partnership has and continues to address security concerns including border control, human trafficking, drug smuggling and black market operations.
Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Gavigan, a Suffolk County Police Department patrol officer and crime scene technician, and Information Systems Technician 1st Class Michael Papa, a New York City Police Department canine counter-terrorism specialist, are the Navy Reserve Sailors that have served in the MTT. Their experience in and out of the U.S. Navy makes them ideally suited to assist in Cambodia's unique training environment.
"I couldn't be prouder of the efforts of this training team," said Capt. Frank Hughlett, MCAST Command commanding officer. "It's remarkable how much can be accomplished by two dedicated MCAST Command Sailors. The military-to-military training programs implemented by Lt. Cmdr. Gavigan and Petty Officer Papa is significantly helping to improve the overall maritime capability of the Royal Cambodian Navy, as well as laying a strategic foundation for an enduring partnership between the U.S. and RCN Sailors."
MCAST Command's unique skill sets enable its Sailors to serve as subject matter experts and trainers for a broad spectrum of maritime related disciplines and maritime civil affairs specialties. The MTT delivers maritime expeditionary core instruction in support of security cooperation and foreign internal defense missions. These efforts are directed at foreign military, civil and security personnel. MTT experts provide critical training to partner nations that enhance security partnerships and stability. These teams deliver training in small boat operations and tactics, maritime combat operations, anti-terrorism/force protection, maintenance and construction and military professional development and leadership. Lessons are taught in the host nation language and tailored to the specific needs of the host nation security team.
The institutional challenges faced by Gavigan and Papa have been many, but the rewards great as their training program took shape and influenced how the undersized Cambodian Navy operates. The RCN is responsible for patrolling hundreds of miles of coastline and inland waterways. Yet, despite recent donations of vessels and equipment from China and the United States, the RCN remains relatively undermanned with only 2,800 personnel including Marine forces. Until the recent recruitment of 400 additional Sailors, the RCN hadn't had new hires since 1993. So, as the RCN continues to modernize its force to keep pace with emerging security threats such as piracy, transnational crime, smuggling and the protection of oil installations, the training provided by the MTT took on increased importance.
"Conducting the professional development and train-the-trainer courses for the RCN epitomizes the purpose for which the mobile training teams from MCAST Command were created," remarked Gavigan, a veteran security assistance trainer. "We provide training to RCN instructors, established performance measurements and then work with the instructors to jointly train new recruits."
The role of the MTT program is essential to the professional development of the Cambodian Sailors, enhancing their ability to manage the difficult responsibility of securing a coastline with limited resources.
"It's so gratifying to work with the Cambodian Navy students," said Gavigan. "The RCN Sailors are eager to learn, ask great questions and appreciate the U.S. Navy's help. In addition to the formal training provided by the MTT, we are also building strong, cooperative relationships with the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia and officials from Japan and Australia in order to have support necessary for success."
When they weren't training students in the classroom or conducting field exercises with the RCN, Gavigan and Papa spend most of their time working with local community organizations. One such place was the Rainbow Foundation, an orphanage founded in February 2000 that houses 11 orphan boys ranging from 5 years old to 15 years old. Gavigan and Papa, along with members of the RCN, donated toys, food supplies, school supplies, backpacks, linens, medical supplies and participated in sports.
"The experiences working with the orphanage was one of the most fulfilling aspects of the entire deployment," said Papa. "The visits to the orphanage made a great impact on me, and I hope to return someday with the Navy to be able to help them further."
MCAST Command, which was commissioned in 2009 as a merger of the former Maritime Civil Affairs group and Expeditionary Training Command, deploys Sailors to help the Navy establish and enhance relations between military forces, governmental and non-governmental organizations and host nation populations. The command deploys two types of teams, maritime civil affairs teams and MTTs, to support exercises and overseas contingency operations that enable partner nations to establish and exercise maritime security and sovereignty.
For more information on the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, visit the MCAST website at http://www.mcast.navy.mil or visit MCAST on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maritime-Civil-Affairs-and-Security-Training-MCAST-Command/165833618708?refequalsnf/.
For more news from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/MCAST/.