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Sailors Graduate French Commando's Course

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070209-03
Release Date: 2/9/2007 10:22:00 AM

By Sgt. James Allen, CJTF-HOA Public Affairs

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti (NNS) -- Sailors, Soldiers and Marines from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) graduated from a grueling five-day French Commando’s course Feb. 3 at the Commando Training Center in Arta, Djibouti.

These service members learned hand-to-hand combat techniques, short range marksmanship and beach assault, among other subjects crucial to their tasks in the global war on terrorism.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class Ralph Schmidtz and Explosive Ordnance 2nd Class Christopher Vann, both of Explosive Ordnance Disposable Mobile Unit 8 (EODMU) 8, gained more than the training they received from the French Foreign Legion Commandos. They also learned tactics, techniques and procedures from the other Soldiers and Marines attending the course.

“Going through the course with other brothers in arms was great,” said Vann. “It just gave me a better perspective of their jobs, how they operate and what they do.”

The training culminated with a confidence course known as the “Way of the Unconscious.” While many of the courses were geared toward team building, this one was an individual effort and included traversing 100 feet above ground on the side of a mountain onto a rock, crossing over a rope bridge approximately 300 feet above ground and sliding down 150 feet on a steel pipe.

“The [Way of the Unconscious] course was excellent. It tested every aspect of my physical fitness and mental bearing,” said Vann. “When I finished there was a great sense of accomplishment shared between all of us that did it.”

The actual course is usually three weeks, but because of mission constraints the French trainers shortened the course to five days.

Vann said he would recommend this course to everyone, especially people who would like a good challenge.

CJTF-HOA is a unit of U.S. Central Command, which conducts operations and training to assist partner nations to combat terrorism. More than 1,500 people from each branch of the U.S. military, civilian employees, coalition forces and partner nations make up the CJTF-HOA organization. The area of responsibility for CJTF-HOA includes the countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

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