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Camp Lejeune Marines teach Yemeni troops counter-terrorism tactics

By Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald | | June 21, 2003

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Marines from 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Marine Division recently returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., after more than a month in Yemen sharing their maritime-based counter-terrorism knowledge with members of the Yemeni Special Operations Forces (YSOF).

The Middle Eastern country is part of the area Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa operates in as the coalition force headquarters supporting the Global War on Terrorism across the region.  The remainder of the operations area is defined as the airspace, coastal waters and territories of Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya.

According to Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, CJTF-HOA commander, five of the seven countries, including Yemen, have "made bold, public commitments to eradicate terrorism from their borders, and to work together with us to create a safe and secure environment within the Horn."

To assist the YSOF, Robeson sought help from a team of highly trained Marines from 2d Recon Battalion.

"The trip to Yemen was not a normal thing for us," said Gunnery Sgt. Kevin R. Helms, assistant team leader. "Since most of the Arabic special operations forces were called away to help in Iraq, they (YSOF) needed someone else to come train them."

During the 40-day trip, the Marines taught small boat operations, engine repair and insertion/extraction techniques.

Helms added, "Because Yemen is surrounded by water, they wanted to learn how to conduct amphibious operations from the sea in order to support their anti-terrorist operations."

Although 2d Recon Battalion is not specifically assigned the combating terrorism (CBT) mission, the Division's reconnaissance Marines are well versed in a variety of CBT activities including ant-terrorism and counter-terrorism tactics, techniques and procedures.

Also, as this operational deployment to Yemen demonstrates, 2d Recon Battalion is capable of handling portions of the foreign internal defense mission.  The mission can be defined as participation by civilian and military agencies of one government in any of the programs taken by another government to free and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness and insurgency.

Foreign internal defense is principally a Special Operations Force mission involving inter-agency activity to organize, train, advise and assist host nation military and paramilitary forces. 

In this case, 2d Recon Battalion capably addressed elements of the foreign internal defense mission involving tactical maritime skills training and weapons system and employment training.

Yemeni and 2d Recon Battalion forces also participated in two live-fire exercises and two amphibious exercises, the last of which highlighted YSOF's enhanced ability to launch small boats from a large craft.

"They (YSOF) had the proper gear, and they knew how to put the boats together," explained Helms. "They just needed to learn a few of the basics like how to take care of their equipment, how to use it properly, how to make boat teams and how to employ the boats when they need to."

He praised the members of YSOF for their hard work during the training.

"We learned that on the soldier-level, they are extremely eager to battle terrorists. They are really good guys who want to learn as much as they can."

Although the intense heat in Yemen made training difficult, Helms admitted he would like to do this type of mission again.

He stated, "Everything went really well, and I think we were able to teach the YSOF a lot of stuff they might not have known to combat terrorists, especially from the sea."

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