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26th MEU Begins Training in Kenya

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070313-08
Release Date: 3/13/2007 1:52:00 PM

By Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron J. Rock, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs

MOMBASA, Kenya (NNS) -- More than 500 Marines and Sailors from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived at Naval Station Manda Bay on March 3 to train with elements of the Kenyan Army and Navy in Exercise Edged Mallet '07.

The Marines and Sailors from the 26th MEU arrived via helicopter and landing craft from the ships of the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG).

The exercise included small arms live-fire and bilateral patrols, as well as community relations projects such as a school refurbishment project and a medical clinic.

Marine Lt. Col. John W. Capdepon, 26th MEU executive officer, said the training fosters relations between the two nations and their militaries.

“The training builds cooperation and interoperability between the U.S. and Kenyan forces,” he said. “In addition, it’s important that we conduct such exercises to demonstrate our strong alliance between each nation and its armed forces.”

The significance of the training was not lost on the host nation. Kenyan Army Maj. Lawrence Gituma, commanding officer of Naval Station Manda Bay, said the training would be informative for all the services involved.

Gituma, who previously had trained with components of the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, said he looked forward to working with the Marines and Navy, and that it was a good chance for the two nations’ militaries to learn not only about military doctrine, but to observe and absorb the cultural differences between the two.

“This will be a chance for them to learn about our country, learn about the Kenyan’s capabilities, and find out firsthand about the humble hospitality of the Kenyan people,” he said.

Capdepon agreed that the cultural exchange was almost as important as the military training.

“Exercises such as Edged Mallet allow two cultures from vastly different parts of the world to come together in a training environment, allowing each to better realize we are not much different from each other,” said Capdepon.

For many of the Marines and Sailors this may be their only chance to visit this continent, let alone Kenya, and the troops have made the best of it.

"The Kenyan Army was very friendly and we learned a lot about their culture," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Jason E. Hendricks, part of the 26th MEU. "It was a good opportunity for us to learn about each other by rebuilding the school, holding the MEDCAP (Medical Civil Assistance Project), and having the training."

The 26th MEU is comprised of the Command Element; the Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 2/2; the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion-26; and the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Reinforced).

The 26th MEU, along with the ships of the Bataan ESG, USS Bataan (LHD-5), USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), USS Shreveport (LPD-12), USS Nitze (DDG-94), USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), USS Underwood (FFG-36) and USS Scranton (SSN-756), deployed in early January on a routine, scheduled deployment.

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