CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ark. - Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa, including a Williamsport native, developed valuable skills for their upcoming deployment during a training cycle at the Tier 1 Group Training Facility in Crawfordsville, Ark., Oct. 4 to 25.
The Marines and sailors learned advanced combat medical techniques, advanced driving techniques, methods for training foreign militaries on marksmanship and how to set up and conduct firing ranges.
"The training we're doing with the Marines here is 'train the trainer'," said Raj Chowdhuri, an instructor with Tier 1 Group and a Nashville, Tenn., native. "It's a formal course on how to be a platform instructor, how to make ranges happen and duties and responsibilities of all the personnel on the range."
The Marines and sailors will be able to apply this knowledge during their upcoming deployment.
"Our mission is focused on training others, especially in marksmanship," said Sgt. Nathaniel Hutt, a scout sniper with Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa, and a Willimantic, Conn., native. "Getting to do the 'train the trainer' piece here was great."
The Marines and sailors learned valuable driving skills such as high speed braking and maneuvering and off-road driving.
"We got our vehicles stuck (on the off-road course) on purpose and they taught us different ways to get it unstuck by using ropes, chains and winches," said Chief Petty Officer Mark Chesney, an independent duty corpsman with Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa and a Williamsport native. "This can prove to be very effective in-country if we get stuck in hostile areas."
The Marines and sailors also learned important medical skills during the tactical combat casualty care portion of the training. During the course, students learned how to rapidly apply medical care in dangerous situations.
"We teach TCCC in the Navy. It was a great refresher for myself," Chesney said.
Chesney said the participants did an excellent job while running through similar scenarios using Marines and sailors as simulated wounded.
"The Marines came in, did their job, got their patients out of fire, dressed the wounds, simulated needle decompression and continued on. I was very impressed (with) how the Marines conducted themselves."
While deployed, the Marines and sailors will focus on training foreign military personnel on the fundamentals of marksmanship with the AK-47 assault rifle, the primary weapon used by many countries.
"We're going to be the only Marines there, and we'll be in charge of training the local nationals. We won't have support from instructors so we need intensive 'train the trainer' classes so that we're able to run ranges," said Sgt. Michael Wong, a team leader with Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa and a Honolulu native. "There's stuff you don't normally think about as a Marine going to a range. They've been teaching us to think about the little things.'
Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa is conducting training with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in preparation for its upcoming deployment.