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Security Task Force Marines share weapon capabilities in Horn of Africa

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/4/2004

Story by Cpl. Adam C. Schnell

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti(May 4, 2004) -- French and American military forces stationed here visited each other's military bases April 29 to become more familiar with the defense capabilities the two share and to gain a greater appreciation for the French air base's capabilities that protect interests in the area.

Marines from U.S. Marine Forces Central Command-Djibouti and French Base Arienne 188 personnel visited each others' bases to discus weapon capabilities with each other, increasing combined efforts to better provide security to the people here.

Camp Lemonier, home of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, is located less than a mile away from the French Air Base. With the two bases so close, they support each other by working together to provide security to the area.

During the training, the French personnel traveled to Camp Lemonier where security task force Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, had a static display of weapons commonly used by the company. A Marine stood behind each of the nine weapons to describe their use, operation and maximum effective range of each weapon.

The French personnel received instruction on every weapon system from the M-9 pistol to the 60 mm mortar from Kilo Company's Weapons Platoon Marines. After learning about the weapon and defense capabilities here, the Marines were escorted aboard the French air base to learn about air defense assets there.

One main weapon used for air defense over the skies of Djibouti by the French air base is an Anti-Air Missile System called a Mistral. The Mistral is a short-range air defense missile system used from various platforms like vehicles, surface ships, helicopters and a portable configuration.

Two people are used when the system is in its portable configuration, with one person carrying the missile and the other carrying the firing unit. The system can be set up and ready to fire in 60 seconds.

A telescopic sight is used for gaining a lock on its target. The system can also be fired at night with a thermal imaging sight.

Along with this unit comes a simulator program that gives the operator practice with many different scenarios and multiple targets. During their visit, some of the Marines learned how to use the system through training with the simulator.

"Being able to use the simulator and see what it's actually like to fire the weapon was a great experience," said Lance Cpl. William J. Allen, an infantryman with the security task force. "It's also great to see the different kinds of weapons used here. It gives you a better understanding of what is going on over here."

The recent training was a stepping-stone for continued cross training between the two bases' personnel, said Capt. Adam M. King, the assistant operations officer for MARCENT-Djibouti. The two are hoping to do more training to enhance the force protection of both bases through knowledge about capabilities of the weapon systems aboard each camp.

"Our security is their security," said King. "We have partners in Djibouti, it's good to know how we can help each other."

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