STENNIS, Miss. (NNS) -- Fifteen officers from 13 partner nations completed Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School's (NAVSCIATTS) 14th iteration of its Strategic Level Small Craft Combating Terrorism Course (SLC) May 5.
Zambia Army Maj. Gen. Topply Lubaya, Zambia deputy army commander and chief of staff was the guest speaker at the SLC Graduation. The graduating officers represented their countries of Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Poland, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Uganda.
The SLC course allows international officers a forum to discuss shared challenges, while helping facilitate the formation of networks and trans-regional synchronization between partners who operate in the same geographic area and face similar problems. This network that reaches across oceans and continents allows for an efficient sharing of information between U.S. forces and facilitates efforts with other agencies and international partners.
"NAVSCIATTS has broadened my perspectives about fighting terrorism," said SLC participant Spencer Leeco, policy analyst to the minister of defense, Liberia. "No question is off limits. The curriculum is crosscutting and delves into the political, ideological, cultural, economic, and military strategies one needs to consider in the war against terror."
Supplementing the in-class lectures and exercises, the course included a week of travel to Washington and Tampa, Florida, to visit and meet with key leaders of various military and interagency staffs. It also gave the senior officers the opportunity to witness the U.S. government at work and visit national monuments and museums.
In Washington, the officers visited Arlington National Cemetery and witnessed a changing of the guard ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also toured the U.S. Capitol and viewed the U.S. House of Representatives while in session.
In addition, the officers met with U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, Theresa Whelan. She discussed the U.S. Department of State's policy and how that translated to the U.S. Department of Defense. She emphasized the importance of working by, with and through partner nations to meet our common security goals. She said the U.S. operates within its own national interest and works with partner nations where those interests align. U.S. country team members on Whelan's staff spent an afternoon discussing U.S. policy and interagency coordination and also fielded many country and regional questions from the officers.
Nigeria Cdr. Aminu Chikaji Isah appreciated Whelan's comments and said she was able to emphasize the type of security assistance the U.S. can provide to partner nations.
"The U.S. isn't necessarily putting boots on the ground, but is empowering other nations to solve their problems through collaboration which encourages a country's independence," said Isah.
The officers also visited U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa to learn about and discuss the interagency coordination not only within U.S security forces and agencies, but also with partner nations' security forces and agencies around the world. Representatives from USSOCOM stressed the importance of the "Global Network Powered by Trust and Providing Strategic Options" for partner nations to enable effective communication, collaboration and idea-sharing.
While at USSOCOM, the officers also met with foreign exchange and foreign liaison officers from Norway, Lithuania and Jordan who are examples of effective partner nation relationship-building by assisting, enabling and facilitating the exchange of information between the U.S. and their respective nations.
Capt. Radoslaw Tokarski, Polish Formoza commander, said he found it beneficial to visit USSOCOM and see the joint interagency cooperation in person.
"The network between countries is very important for strategic plans," Tokarski said. "It is very difficult to exist in today's world without effective communication between partner nations."
The SLC course was designed to expand senior officers' and/or civilian equivalent leaders' joint interagency education on the strategic theory of standing up, leading and operating a dynamic unit, to include operational campaign designs focused on counterterrorism, maritime domain control, counter-narcotics and human trafficking.
The course of instruction also includes maritime security doctrine; operational command and control; training and readiness; organizational leadership; material craft and equipment suitability; logistics; maintenance sustainability; professional military education; and maritime facilities and infrastructure.
"In addition to the relevant and dynamic course curriculum, one of the most important things the partner nation officers gain while at NAVSCIATTS is friendship -- friendships that span social, economic, religious and geographic boundaries," said NAVSCIATTS Commanding Officer Cmdr. Clay Pendergrass. "We are drawn together by the common goals of protecting our families, protecting our nations, and protecting our world."
Lt. Marko Mladenovic of Serbia said he greatly values the relationships he has built during the SLC course.
"I have gained much knowledge while attending this course and I have had the opportunity to see the world through my classmates' perspectives," he said. "My time at NAVSCIATTS will benefit myself and my country in the future."
NAVSCIATTS is U.S. Special Operations Commands' International Center specializing in mobile and in-resident training across the tactical, operational and strategic spectrums strengthening partner nation capabilities and capacity.
NAVSCIATTS currently offers 20 courses with an average of nearly 1,000 personnel graduating from in-resident and mobile training events annually. Since 1963, nearly 11,000 students from 108 partner nations have graduated from NAVSCIATTS. Courses are offered in English and Spanish or in other languages through the use of translators.
For more news from Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School , visit www.navy.mil/local/navsciatts/.