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Marine Special Ops in Dominican Republic

U.S. Marine Special Operations train Dominican Forces, Enhance Relationships

Story and Photos by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Felix A. Figueroa, SOCSOUTH Public Affairs Office

081711a393409 SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC- U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Advisor Group, Marine Special Operations Team-Eight recently provided training to the Dominican Republic Secretary of State Counter Terrorism Armed Forces or SEFA CT, as part of a Joint Combined Exchange Training program.

Aside from learning the basics of marksmanship, SEFA CT were instructed in a myriad of skill sets ranging from advanced light infantry tactics, techniques and procedures to medical first responders. The Marines chosen for this mission are operationally attached to Special Operations Command South and are carefully screened and selected by U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command.
These battle hardened Marines and Sailors, each possess multiple skills aside from their very own occupational specialty and are charged with the responsibility to train, advise and assist friendly host-nation forces, enabling them to support their governments’ inner security and stability, helping prepare for future internal and external threats.

“In order for this training to succeed, it’s crucial to establish a rapport with them immediately, but you have to gain their trust first to help build their confidence,” said MSOT, Officer in Charge
According to Wilber Dotel, Ensign, Dominican Naval Forces, SEFA CT, trusting this team came easily because he and his men were extremely impressed with the knowledge base, experience and training MSOT-Eight brought with them.

081711a3934f01 “I know many who don’t agree with the U.S. being in Iraq, but the experience your Marines brought back is extremely beneficial to us on an individual basis and to our country,” said Dotel

29 year-old Dotel says his country is often times used as a bridge to export contraband and if not addressed, can lead to future problems in terrorism.
“This training helps us directly engage the problems regarding narco-trafficking in our country. Your [logistics] support is immense and extremely valued, and without that, none of this would have been possible,” Dotel added.

081711a3934f02 As a testament to the training provided by MSOT, many of the host-nation soldiers trained was chosen to work directly for the Dominican Republic President and other internal political figures.
The training team is primarily made up of junior ranking Non-Commissioned Officers, one senior NCO and a mid-grade NCO. According to the team captain, the responsibilities placed on them individually, is echelons above their current pay grade and experience but they all agreed to have become a multi-functional and well rounded group.

Additionally, the teams’ chief hospital corpsmen along with the weapons NCO both said that the conventional side of the Marine Corps and Navy will benefit from having all of them if sent back to serve in that function, however, they all expressed no interest in doing so.

081711a3934072 “Although it’s a relatively new concept, and aside from the challenges this unique structure brings about, being with this small, specialized, mature group of guys makes it all worth while,” said the Chief Hospital Corpsmen and 15 year veteran.

“The concept and inception of Special Operations Forces within the U.S. Marine Corps came to fruition approximately three years ago, but I feel the impact throughout the corps and fleet will be beneficial and long lasting,” added the Chief Hospital Corpsmen

At the end of each day, MSOT instructors gather the SEFA CT around them and go over what was learned in the day’s lesson. According to the teams’ captain, this allows him and his men an opportunity to practice the local language while testing the students on recently acquired knowledge, increasing respect for one another.

“It’s truly a reverent feeling to see the guys you trained grow in ability and pass it along,” said MSOT Weapons Sergeant.

“Our efforts to learn their language and culture mixed with their desire to become a better fighting force has helped our relations, formed a bond and understanding of one another,” added the MSOT Weapons Sergeant.

Story and Photos by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Felix A. Figueroa, SOCSOUTH Public Affairs Office