SPMAGTF-South Conducts Theater Security Cooperation in Brazil

SPMAGTF-South Conducts Theater Security Cooperation in Brazil

U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South share experiences of warfighting tactics with Brazilian Naval forces at Marambaia Island, Brazil, Aug. 4, 2014, as part of a theater security cooperation event. The TSC event was made up of multiple bi-lateral exchanges to include medical treatment, improvised explosive device detection, combat tracking and combat marksmanship. Photo by Cpl Donald Holbert.

MARAMBAIA ISLAND, Brazil (Aug. 12, 2014) - The Logistics Combat Element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South departed the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), August 4, for a theater security cooperation event at Marambaia Island, Brazil.

The TSC consisted of bi-lateral exchanges on combat marksmanship, improvised explosive device detection, medical treatment and combat tracking, concluding with a BBQ to send the Marines and sailors of SPMAGTF-South on their way.

U.S. and Brazilian Marines conducted bi-lateral combat marksmanship practice for two consecutive days at a shooting range on the island. Though the two groups of Marines shared many fundamental practices, it was clear that many of their tactics have been tailored to meet their specific missions.

"A lot of their shooting techniques and styles have been adapted for the favelas and jungle," said 1stLt Lamontie James, the LCE executive officer with SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Tampa, Florida. "Whereas we are more focused on Iraq and Afghanistan type engagements."

By the conclusion of the range, both groups took away new and useful tactics to be employed in future training and operations.

The island provided a perfect setting for the two forces to conduct their bi-lateral IED detection exchange. Simulated IEDs were planted on a road which allowed each group to demonstrate their own detection and disposal tactics.

"We showed them different ways of patrolling using a v-sweep," said Cpl Christopher Cordero Vega, a combat engineer section-head for the LCE of SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Humacao, Puerto Rico. "They were very enthusiastic about everything we showed them because they were techniques from Iraq and Afghanistan, things they haven't seen before."

Every service member who participated in the counter IED course also participated in combat tracking due to the relevance that it has to IED detection. In combat tracking, personnel are taught to identify changes in their environment to assist in locating an objective. The instructors provided practical application for the U.S. and Brazilian Marines to apply the skills they learned in the classroom.

"You have three different types of tracking, micro, macro and tactical," said Cpl Jake Steinbuch, LCE optics chief with SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Temecula, California. "We made different spore pits to show how you can determine size, activity, location and movement."

Whether IEDs or personnel, the bi-lateral combat tracking exchange provided both groups with the fundamentals needed to improve their situational awareness in operational environments.

CLS played a significant role in the TSC as well. Navy personnel from both nations brought their best practices to the table. The bi-lateral exchange consisted of mass casualty events, hemorrhage control and advanced airway resuscitation.

"Medical practice is an international language that everybody speaks," said Petty Officer 1st Class Clarence Perry, a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman with SPMAGTF-South. "We learned from them that if they don't have the materials, they would improvise and use their environment to take care of a patient. Sometimes thinking outside the box is the simplest form to fix a patient and save a life."

The bi-lateral CLS exchange concluded with a practical application where both groups demonstrated their newly acquired skills on simulated patients and scenarios.

The TSC event was concluded with a BBQ hosted by the Brazilians as a gesture of respect and partnership with the Marines and Sailors with SPAMGTF-South. The night consisted of Brazilian food, socializing and the presentation of a plaque for Brazilian Rear Adm. Nelio de Almeida, commander of Marine Doctrine and Training Command. By the end of the evening it was clear that strong bonds had been formed that have resulted in life-long friendships. Many shared their interest in returning for future TSCs with their new Brazilian counterparts.

"We brought to the table the best that America has to offer and Brazil did the same," said GySgt Steven Superville, the LCE operations chief with SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Brooklyn, New York. "The whole experience is one that I will never forget."

The Marines of SPMAGTF-South are embarked aboard USS America on her maiden transit, "America Visits the Americas." The transit is a clear example of our nation's commitment to our regional partners and allies. Through partner-nation activities, key leader engagements and security cooperation activities, the Marines and Sailors of SPMAGTF-South demonstrate the flexibility, utility and unparalleled expeditionary capability the Navy-Marine Corps team provides our nation and partners.

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