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ETC Sailors Deploy in Support of GFS

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071028-04
Release Date: 10/28/2007 4:21:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jen Smith, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The first group of Sailors attached to Expeditionary Training Command (ETC) boarded USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43), Oct. 24, to participate in a portion of McHenry's seven-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea and western Africa, the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led Africa Partnership Station Initiative.

They aren't going there to fight the enemy; instead, it's about sharing knowledge designed to increase the host nation's defensive capabilities. This mission aligns with Navy's new maritime strategy and the Global Fleet Station (GFS) concept. It's designed to provide a way to increase maritime security throughout the world by cooperating and sharing knowledge with our foreign partners.

"We'll be there for seven weeks, training their military forces on small boat maneuvering, basic seamanship, maintenance management and medical practices," said Chief Warrant Officer Tom Peal, the team leader for the first phase.

Each of the team members has a particular specialty he will be teaching. Although James Lamberson is a first class electrician's mate, he has spent the majority of his 17-year career working with special boat units, dive and salvage, and SEAL delivery vehicle teams. While in Africa, he will be the small craft coxswain instructor.

"I'll be teaching them the specifics of boat driving and some background of what's happening with the different parts of the boat and why it happens," Lamberson said. "Basically I'm giving them a fundamental knowledge of boats."

Last week, nine of the 10 Sailors wrapped up a four-day intensive course in the cultures of the countries they are scheduled to visit. Aside from the training they receive for their jobs, they say the regional orientation was one of the most important parts of their training.

"The course opened my eyes to the different cultures there and the African way of life," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Rodney LeSane. "One of the things that sticks in my mind is the fact that Africa is a continent made up of 50 different countries."

It's the fact that there are 50 countries on a continent that is roughly the size of North America that make learning about the wide variety of cultures so important. Each of those countries has their own way of life, culture, customs and traditions. Some of those countries even have a wide variety of languages spoken.

For example, the country of Cameroon, which is slightly larger than California, has 24 major African language groups.

"As an instructor, knowing these differences will make a major impact of the success of our courses," said Lamberson. "The most important aspect of teaching is being able to communicate with your students. We don't want to allow social misunderstandings get in the way and prevent us from getting our points across."

This particular group of ten sailors is the first Navy Expeditionary Training Command team to head out to West Africa. They are scheduled to make port visits in Senegal, Cameroon and Ghana.

ETC is part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), a global force provider of adaptive force packages of expeditionary capabilities to joint warfighting commanders. NECC serves as a single manning functional command to centrally manage the current and future readiness, resources, manning, training and equipping of the Navy Expeditionary Force.

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