ROTA, Spain — A Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) team from Morocco, along with U.S. Marines from Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company, Europe (FASTEUR) and Spanish marines conducted Helicopter Rope Suspension Training (HRST) from a Spanish navy helicopter in preparation for excercise Phoenix Express 2010 at Naval Station Rota, Spain April 27.
Following the HRST, the Moroccans and U.S. Marines continued on with Close Quarters Battle (CQB) training.
Phoenix Express is a annual multinational exercise that includes more than a dozen European and African nations and is designed to strengthen maritime partnerships among participating nations. The goals of the exercise are to increase participating countries’ knowledge base and experience level with FAST unit core capabilities, and highlight common safety and security concerns in the maritime environment, such as illegal immigration, criminal activity, narcotics trafficking, and weapons trafficking.
"Multilateral exercises like Phoenix Express are an important part of the Naval Forces Africa Maritime Supporting Plans and the International Military Partnering Lines of Operations" said Navy Capt. Martin Beck, Commander, Naval Expeditionary Task Force Europe and Africa, Commander Task Force 68 (CTF 68/368). "The FAST Marines working with our Spanish host to help train and prepare our North African partners for maritime security operations are key in our combined readiness to address the security challenges we face at sea."
Moroccan MIO Teams are training primarily on tactics, techniques and procedures associated with Maritime Interdiction Operations. Rappelling is an insertion method used by armed forces to place troops in areas where a safe landing zone is not present, the terrain makes vehicle passage difficult or there is a need for speed and simplicity.
“Rappelling is always fun,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Greg Tackett. “There was a little bit of competition between us and the Spanish marines. They are good, but my team had one of the fastest times coming down.”
Following the HRST, the training moved into basic CQB where Marines showed the Moroccans how to enter a house and clear it out with minimal risk. Tackett and the other instructors first showed the Moroccans how to properly clear the room with a four-man team, step by step, then at actual speed.
“We have been able to look at the small things as we go through this,” said Tackett. “It helps the team to prepare for any mission we might have in the future.”
The Marines let the Moroccans go through at a crawl, then a walk, then run. This allowed U.S. Marines to correct any deficiencies on the spot.
“They are pretty good,” said Tackett who was one of the lead instructors. “Training like this is important because Morocco is our partner nation. They need to be up to par on how we do things. But it is also a good chance for us to learn how to be better instructors, not just for our Marines, but for other countries.”
Training and combat facilities at NAVSTA Rota enable training exercises, such as Phoenix Express, to promote all countries' maritime strategies, said Navy Capt. Bill Mosk, NAVSTA commanding officer.
"Rota plays a crucial role in supporting our nation's Maritime Strategy by providing the facilities and opportunities for evolutions such as this," said Mosk. "We want to ensure we are providing exceptional support to our warfighters."
FAST Company Europe is a tenant command of Commander, Naval Expeditionary Task Force Europe and Africa (CTF 68/368). The task force is responsible for exercising tactical control and functional component command over assigned forces for the direction, control and approval of movements, maneuvers and operations necessary to accomplish Commander, 6th Fleet assigned missions and tasks.
Naval Station Rota, Spain is strategically located near the Strait of Gibraltar and at the halfway point between the United States and Southwest Asia. Because of this ideal location, the base is able to provide invaluable support to both U.S. Sixth Fleet units in the Mediterranean and to U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command units transiting into or through the theater.
The base and its tenant commands are located within the boundaries of the 6,100 acre Spanish 'Base Naval de Rota.' Under the guidance of the Agreement for Defense Cooperation, the U.S. and Spanish navies work together and share many facilities. The U.S. Navy has the responsibility for maintaining the station's infrastructure, including a 670-acre airfield, three active piers, 426 facilities and 801 family housing units.