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Basic Military Intelligence Engagement with SP-MAGTF Africa 13

US Marine Corps News

By Maj. Oliver Talbott | Marine Forces Europe and Africa | December 17, 2013

HASTINGS, Sierra Leone -- A Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 contact team travelled to Sierra Leone to conduct a basic military intelligence familiarization at the Peacekeeping Mission Training Center in Hastings, Sierra Leone, from Dec. 2-6.

Sierra Leone is known as a former British colony replete with diamonds, as the setting of a brutal civil war lasting 11 years (1991-2002), and for its landscape of haze-wreathed hills, stunning beaches, and some of the friendliest, politest people in West Africa. The constant buzz of building and construction in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, reflects a hope for a brighter future, and a more capable infrastructure to support its people. Being the Christmas season, weddings and celebrations echoed throughout the evening and deep into the night.

Sierra Leone is the first West African nation to provide forces to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the African Union in its fight against Al-Shabaab. The soldiers which attended the familiarization are scheduled to deploy to Somalia in 2014 as part of Sierra Leone Battalion 2 (LEOBATT2), the second iteration of Sierra Leone forces fighting as part of AMISOM.

LEOBATT2 pre-deployment familiarization consists of work with the British International Security Assistance Team based in Freetown, U.S. Marines, and U.S. Department of Defense contractors.

As part of their pre-deployment package, we demonstrated basic military intelligence skills to the S-2 section of LEOBATT2. The intelligence officers and noncommissioned officers were uniformly enthusiastic and determined to acquire knowledge beneficial to their upcoming deployment. Additionally, two Liberian intelligence officers attended and assisted in the familarization.

We also briefly visited a local elementary school, grades 1-5, and delivered school supplies; a notebook, pencil, eraser, and sharpener for each student, along with two chalkboards built by a local carpenter. The head teacher, Maggie, was excited and pleased as we visited on the same day a school board regulator was assessing her school and students.

Editor's Note: Maj. Oliver Talbott, an intelligence security cooperation officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, presents a first-person perspective while working with African partners in Sierra Leone that directly impacts the African Union Mission in Somalia.

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