“Phoenix Express 09” – Combined Naval Forces Exercise

Sailors and Marines began practical training exercises during Phoenix Express 09 (PE09) with Spanish, Tunisian, and Moroccan Sailors and Marines practicing small arms familiarization and visit, board, search, and seizure techniques aboard Greek training ship, ARIS on April 28.

PE09 is a two week long exercise designed to strengthen regional maritime partnerships and is part of the overall U.S. Africa Command theater security cooperation strategy to enhance regional stability through increased interoperability and partnership among participating nations. Participating countries include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Senegal, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Italy, France, Malta, Croatia, and the U.S.

The training consisted of a compressed version of the 12-day Boarding Team Theoretical and Practical Module course taught at the NATO Maritime Interdictions Operations Training Center. The modules, taught by Greek instructors from the school and supported by the U.S. VBSS team, include small arms familiarization, clearing corner technique, and climbing techniques.

Service members from each of the participating countries pass through the modules allowing the instructors and U.S. VBSS support team not only to teach techniques but also to observe what the participants from each country already know, according to Warrant Officer Niko Bouras, a NMIOTC instructor.

“This is a valuable experience for the instructors from the school because it widens our perspective in order to tailor the official curriculum at the school house,” said Bouras.

The NMIOTC conducts the combined training for naval forces to better execute surface, aerial surveillance, and special operations activities in support of Maritime Interdiction Operations by promoting skills and interoperability among naval units through training and simulation.

“It is essential for any team to be effective in potentially lethal situations and we are learning to provide security in the region through these exercises,” said Spanish Navy Capt. Jorge Tierno. “We don’t have a training ship so this is a tremendous benefit.”

Cargo container inspections with fast rope and repel training with participants from Spanish, Turkish, and Algerian militaries also continued today.

PE09 expects to go on with practical training exercises including damage control training and helicopter flight operations through May 4 when several ships from participant nations will go underway for the at-sea segment of the exercise.


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