US, Spanish, Portuguese Marines join Gabon for patrolling exercises

An early morning final practical application exercise in Mondorobe, Gabon on April 29 wrapped up a nine-day evolution for American, Spanish, and Portuguese marines aboard the USS Nashville to exchange land navigation, patrol techniques, and combat-order procedures with the Gabonese marine sailors.

Africom says the exercise gave the participants a chance to put their skills to the test, both on land and at sea by executing a mock mission to recapture a critical water pumping station that had been seized.

Divided into two squads, one team deployed aboard two Zodiac boats and a long boat up the Animba River, while the other took two seven-ton vehicles to the site. Together, the multinational team surprised and defeated the enemy at the station.
“They really grasped the concepts and fundamentals we were teaching,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Jason Elsdon, Marine Advisor Team advisor. “We really saw it applied somewhat on the first day of the exercise, but by the third day, they really had the swing of it.”

The Gabonese felt the final training exercise gave them a chance to practice the skills they already had and apply the new techniques they had learned. It also gave them the chance to realize their strengths and weaknesses.
“In terms of communication and maritime and ground transportation, I think it’s something we should consider to improve future missions. Overall everything went well,” said Gabonese Navy Sergeant Pierre MBoulu, a radar operator. “All the Gabonese marines were happy to participate in the mission and they are proud of it.”

The US Marines witnessed immediate potential and growth in their Gabonese comrades as they overcame several obstacles, including weather and logistical issues to accomplish their mission.
“The best part for me was having the opportunity to share knowledge with my Gabonese counterparts,” said Elsdon. “I was able to show them our concepts and ways of doing things. Then I was able to see them apply it and be successful at it.”

This visit to Port Gentile represented the last stop of a six-country mission as part of Africa Partnership Station Nashville. During the five-month deployment, US Marines worked with Senegalese, Liberian, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Cameroonian and Gabonese service members as well as their surrounding communities.

APS Nashville, part of the multinational initiative developed by Commander, US Naval Forces Europe-Commander, US Naval Forces Africa, works cooperatively with US and international partners to enhance maritime safety and security on the African continent.