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Marines Conduct Land Navigation Exercise Exchange in Guatemala

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110228-07

By Cpl. Jacquiline Sanderfer, A-SPS 11 Public Affairs

SANTO TOMAS NAVAL BASE, Guatemala (NNS) -- Security Cooperation Task Force (SCTF), Logistics Combat Element, hosted a class on land navigation with Guatemalan marines aboard Santo Tomas Naval Base, Feb. 18.

The class was conducted by Sgt. Kenneth L. Krygier , SCTF, and focused on how to properly use a compass, navigate through foreign terrain, and how to read and plot coordinates on a map.

"This is one of the best classes I have ever taught," said Krygier. "Knowing that I helped them understand more on how to operate a compass, read a map, and giving them a better understanding on how we operate is really rewarding."

The class began with a PowerPoint presentation and was followed by a practical application test.

"We're learning so much, thanks to the instructor's in-depth knowledge of navigation," said Guatemalan marine Cpl. Julian Gallardo Och Pop, an infantryman with fifteen years experience. "We're not used to using technical instruments with our navigation. During the day, the sun is our form of knowing where we are and which direction to travel. During the night, we utilize the stars to navigate us."

Due to problems with drug trafficking in Guatemala, the Guatemalan marines have found themselves in the jungle using navigation techniques to recover crashed airplanes that were transporting drugs.

"A lot of what we learned today is a new way of navigating for us," said Guatemalan marine Soldier Second Class Leonel Rax Yat. "We do spend time in the jungle recovering airplanes carrying drugs that crash, and these new techniques will better allow us to be sure in which way to travel."

According to Rax Yat, map reading was not one of his strong suits prior to this class.

"I'm leaving this class with a complete understanding of how to read a map," said Rax Yat. "I really thought that being able to read a map was something I was never really going to completely comprehend. I'm really thankful for this opportunity."

"Sgt. Krygier gave them the basic skills set of navigation just like every U.S. Marine gets," said 2nd Lt. Michael H. Wieland, Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 combat engineer. "He did excellent with a language barrier and for the Guatemalan marines not knowing in depth land navigation. He did a phenomenal job."

While in Guatemala, Marines of SCTF exchanged professional knowledge and expertise, including combat marksmanship, water survival, and other vital areas to improve skills and develop relationships with the Guatemalan marines.

SCTF consists of Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271, 2nd Tank Battalion and 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion and is currently deployed in support of Amphibious Southern Partnership Station 2011 (A-SPS11). A-SPS11's mission is to strengthen cooperative partnerships in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility and to conduct SMEEs to enhance capabilities of both U.S. and foreign militaries.

COMUSNAVSO is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility. COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. Maritime Strategy, including Theater Security Cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

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