DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti — Marines and sailors from Special-Purpose Marine-Air Ground Task Force Africa began a four-week training evolution with Djibouti’s Group d’Intervention de la Genarmerie Nationale, Aug. 25.
The GIGN is Djibouti’s premiere paramilitary crisis response force. They are expected to be able to respond to an emergency situation in Djibouti City in less than 30 minutes. The unit is made up of volunteers from Djiboutian defense and law enforcement forces. After volunteering, members go through a yearlong selection process before being able to join the unit.
“There is one year of training that requires the volunteers to maintain high physical and technical abilities,” said Lt. Ilias Aden Abdillahi, the commander of the GIGN. “The first year of training is very difficult. If the trainees don’t pass they are eliminated and not able to be part of the unit.”
For four weeks, roughly 60 students from the GIGN will work with Theater Security Cooperation Team-3 of Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa to be familiarized with American weapon systems and American medical skills.
“We’re working with the GIGN on combat marksmanship, tactical combat casualty care, close quarters battle, as well as sniper and observer employment. These are skills that keep the GIGN mission capable and ready at a moments notice while defending their country. During our four-week mission we’ll work to add to the skills that the GIGN already possess and to add to their capabilities. At the conclusion of the training package we’ll conduct a comprehensive final exercise that brings all the skills together” said Capt. Daniel Hyman, assistant team leader, SCT-3.
This is the first time that these Marines and sailors have worked with the GIGN, but the members of the GIGN were familiar with the U.S. Marines and appreciate the Marine Corps culture.
“This is our fourth time training with U.S. Marines. We are satisfied to work with Marines for their professionalism. We share many ideas and have a similar culture to the Marines,” said Abdillahi. “We would like to work more with them. We are fortunate as we are the only unit in the Djiboutian National Security Service that gets American training.”
The GIGN use a number of different weapon systems, but the training with Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa will familiarize members of the GIGN with the M4 service rifle, M9 service pistol, and M24 sniper weapon system. The Marines are also teaching searching techniques and Marine Corps martial arts.
“We are training with our new American weapon systems and this helps us to know how to use these weapons and share the proficiency that the Marines have on these weapons,” added Abdillahi. “These weapons systems help us better integrate with our police forces.”
Many of the Marines from the Special-Purpose MAGTF have worked with militaries from partner nations before and that experience provides insight to their work here in Djibouti with the GIGN.
“I think that the GIGN share a lot of our values and they’re motivated,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew MacArthur, team chief, SCT-3. “It’s pretty obvious that these guys have worked with Marines before.”
Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa is made up of more than120 Reserve Marines and sailors from 32 different units. The Special-Purpose MAGTF supports U.S. Africa Command and Marine Forces Africa by conducting U.S. Department of State sponsored security cooperation missions in the continent of Africa.