NEAR CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- Security personnel here supporting Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa participated in bilateral training with their counterparts from the German military November 1 and 2.
Marines from the Antiterrorism Security Task Force Military Police and Military Working Dog detachments shared tactics and weapons knowledge with the 151st Feldjager Battalion Military Police during a weapons shoot, helping to build understanding, camaraderie and friendship with an ally in the Global War on Terrorism.
According to a spokesperson from the 151st Feldjager Battalion, the German military participated with the Marines so they could build a connection and work together with them during their deployment here.
The personnel from Camp Lemonier had similar reasons for participating in the training.
"The purpose of the training was to familiarize American and German MPs with one another's tactics, techniques and procedures," said Capt. Hunter R. Rawlings, Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Liaison Officer, AT-Task Force Executive Officer and Range Safety Officer. "In addition, as a coalition partner (the purpose of the training) is to get familiar with their weapons and open up friendships.
"This training is unique because the Germans have many weapons of similar caliber, but their tactics are different," he continued. "This is a learning experience for us to see how they utilize their weapons."
During the training the Germans MPs fired the M9 9mm Service Pistol, M16A2 Service Rifle and the M240G Medium Machine Gun, while the American MPs fired the P-7 and P-8 9mm Service Pistols, MP-5 9mm Machine Pistol and the G-36 Service Rifle.
According to Rawlings both organizations have many weapons and training tips beneficial to share and learn from each other.
"Our troops benefit in three ways from this training," he said. "They learned German tactics for stacking and room clearing, a method of sustaining rapid fires down a corridor then branching troops off into adjacent rooms without limiting or lowering the rate of fire. They learned that our coalition partners are willing to risk their lives in the Global War on Terrorism right next to us, that they have a vested interest in ensuring that the Horn of Africa remains safe. They also learned that the Germans are an amenable group, willing to listen to our tactics as much as we listened to theirs, opening a free line of dialog."
On the first day, the range began early with setting up targets at 5:30 am, followed by a safety brief in German and English and a safety demonstration on each weapon.
Ranges like this are unique for the Marines according to Rawlings.
"Normally, the Marines train only with their own units and don't get to see there are other countries which train using different methods which are equally as successful as our own," he explained.
As the first day progressed into the live fire portions with the M-9, P-7 and P-8, each organization took the opportunity to demonstrate shooting tactics such as hammer drills, failure to stop drills, shooting stances and quick-draw techniques.
This type of training is unique for the German personnel as well.
"It is hard for us to get ammunition in Germany. Our military is small and we train on a smaller level focusing on procedures," the German spokesperson explained.
This was followed by transition drills, where the personnel would first shoot the M-16 or G-36, then quickly let the weapon hang by its sling while drawing the pistol and continuing to firing.
"From us, the Germans learned combat styles of shooting with a primary weapon system then transitioning to a secondary weapon from the holster with a method called "reflex shooting" where you don't wait for good sight picture and good sight alignment," Rawlings explained the course of fire. "You attempt to stop the enemy with rapid controlled fires with a wider grouping than a range."
According to the German spokesperson this type of training will assist them in their day-to-day activities.
"We provide security for the logistics base," the German's spokesperson explained. "Inside this base, we are responsible for force protection and for providing security for high ranking officers."
The first day's final training exercise and the highlight of the training for the German personnel, according to their spokesperson, was the live fire with the M240G Medium Machine Guns. During this portion, the Marines instructed their German counterparts in transversing and elevation manipulation using three targets, and assistant gunner techniques for controlling fire.
This was conducted from the 200-meter line, and the M240 was the largest caliber weapon fired during the training.
The second day began later in the day, 11:30 am, though it was a similar routine with setting up targets and safety briefs.
Following the briefs, they moved into more advanced tactics with combat rifle strings of fire and small arms fire.
Rawlings said, "The Marines will use the techniques they learned in future operations, many of them in Iraq where they may get sent."
During this course of fire, the Germans also demonstrated for the Marines how they enter a house and conduct corridor and room clearing.
"The Marines know how to do this type of thing, but our techniques are different," the German spokesperson explained. "In Germany we (MPs) train for protection verse combat."
"We got a lot of good experience and knowledge of our allies' tactics," said Cpl. Jason W. Romlein, Military Working Dog Handler and acting Kennel Master. "We also got a great sense of camaraderie.
"There is nothing that most soldiers and Marines like to do more than go out and shoot rounds with each other."
The range ended with medium range (200 meter) rifle fire.
"The Marines were impressed with the two built-in sight systems; one with "red-dot" technology and the other a scope accurate to 800 meters," Rawlings explained. "These allowed the Marines to acquire and get dead center mass shooting in a much shorter time than they do with the iron sights of the M16A2 Service Rifle."
"The Germans like the simplicity of the American system," he continued, "saying that their scope sometimes fogs during inclement weather."
According to the German spokesperson, the training was a success. "We really enjoyed training together and seeing how the Marines work. The Marines have more training and different procedures. It was interesting to see, and we learned a lot."
A barbeque on the beach was hosted by the Germans on completion of the first day of training, and the Marines returned the hospitality by hosting drinks and pizza at the camp cantina the second day.
For Romlein, the talking and discovery was the best part of the training exercise.
"They were just as inquisitive about us as we were about them," he explained. "One of the things I was asking them was why their weapons are lighter and smaller than ours.
"They said it was for room clearing and close quarters fighting. The G36, P-7 and P-8 are all designed for close quarters."
He went on to explain Marine MPs are still trained to guard convoys and bases as a large portion of their duties so they carry heavier weapons.
"They were inquisitive about why we still used the M16 when all other countries are going to other weapon systems," Romlein continued. "I told them though it is around 40 years old, we are still achieving monumental results."
To follow up this training, there will be another tactics shoot over the next three to four weeks followed by a rifle qualification range with the other country's weapons. They will exchange shooting badges based on the merit of each shooter's capability with the weapons.
"During this training, I learned about the nature of the German military," Romlein said. "They have a long history and are still an intimidating military force. Their size and equipment make them perfect for peacekeeping environments such as we are in here."