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Marines conduct crisis response exercise from USNS Spearhead

US Marine Corps News

By Sgt. Ed Galo | Marine Forces Europe and Africa | March 21, 2014

MONROVIA, Liberia -- A contingent of Marines from Marine Forces Europe and Africa launched from the joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) as part of a crisis response exercise in the American Embassy in Liberia to enhance U.S.-Liberian capabilities to protect U.S. diplomatic missions in the area, March 7.

The exercise prepared response forces for potential situations of regional instability in the area and strengthened interagency cooperation between the U.S. and the Liberian government and military.

"We used this new platform, the JHSV 1, to make a small craft insertion into Liberia and then moved to the embassy and worked with some of the Department of State personnel there and [Marine Security Guards] and rehearsed some scenarios," said 2nd Lt. John Porter, a theater security cooperation team leader.

The team of Marines launched from the Spearhead aboard a seven-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

After a short ride to the coast of Liberia, the Liberian Coast Guard escorted the Marines to a dock aboard one of their bases.

The Marines were then transported to the American Embassy in Liberia where the next phase of the exercise would begin.

In the embassy, the Marines were briefed by members of the State Department on what some of the scenarios would be and what to expect from the exercise.

"We had the armed forces of Liberia observing us," Porter said. "One of them tried my gear on; he wanted to know how heavy it was. They were all higher ranking, company and even battalion commanders."

The exercise consisted of Liberia being in a state of civil unrest, with local citizens at the gates of the embassy. The Marines were to protect the embassy and make sure no one got in the gates.

During another part of the scenario, the Marines along with members of the State Department practiced what they would do in the event a group of local nationals managed to cross into the embassy. The Marines had set up various positions throughout the embassy where they could watch over the entire area.

The second scenario had one of the Marine posts report to a quick reaction team that they had spotted a group of locals in the embassy. The quick reaction team then swiftly patrolled from their staging area and found the role players acting as the locals. They were detained and then turned over to the proper local authorities.

During the last portion of the exercise, the Marines and State Department personnel practiced inspecting vehicles at one of the gates entering the embassy. They checked the vehicles for anything dangerous that could be brought into the embassy compound.

"My favorite part was the opportunity to go meet the Ambassador in her office, Ambassador Malac," Porter said. "I prepared a small brief for her about the 'single MAGTF concept' and what future deployments will look like in terms of Africa and crisis response. She was pleased with the exercise and was more than happy to have us there that day. She said she would be more than willing to do similar events because she sees the value in it."

At the end of the training exercise, the Marines from Spearhead, Marine Security Guards at the embassy and the Department of State personnel came together to discuss what they had learned from each other, what was good about the training and things that they can improve. The Marines went back to the coast guard base, boarded the seven-meter RHIB and then embarked the Spearhead once again en route for their long journey back to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy.

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