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Charting the Course to Bull Shark: MSRON 11 Training with Djiboutian Partners Pays Off at Joint Exercise

27 November 2023

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rion Codrington

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (November 27, 2023) -- Service members from Camp Lemonnier joined members of the Djiboutian Coast Guard and Navy in a biannual maritime security and personnel recovery exercise.
From Nov. 27-28, Exercise Bull Shark tested joint teams on maritime security and personnel recovery operations. Teams had to locate and rescue a casualty, then escalate them to a higher echelon of care under hostile conditions.

The exercise also enhances water rescue teams’ capability to interoperate in the Gulf of Aden and ensure force protection along the Bab-el Mandeb Strait, a major global trading route.

“We took on this event with a strong commitment to producing a product that represents our dedication to the Djiboutian military,” said Boatswain Mate Chief Roxxanne Bravo, MSRON 11 training department lead chief petty officer. “Exercises like this help us build strong relationships, because we can offer something of value that supports the Djiboutian Navy and Coast Guard in their efforts to defend their coastline.”

While the exercise lasted only two days, preparation began three months ago, when MSRON 11 began training with their Djiboutian counterparts.

“Training together has improved our collective military knowledge for real-world events and future operations while strengthening our relationship,” said Engineman 1st Class Rene Flores, MSRON 11 training department lead petty officer. “By sharing our experience and training with our Djiboutian partners, we can all improve together and add more complexity to future training events.”

MSRON 11, assigned to CLDJ, is a component of Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces (MESF). MESF mobilizes squadrons to CLDJ to provide 24/7 port security and escorting operations for CLDJ’s 38 tenant commands and visiting naval vessels.

MSRON units deployed to CLDJ partner with the Djiboutian Coast Guard and Navy to protect the Port of Djibouti, exchange knowledge and offer new perspectives, experiences and assets for missions across the region.

Since August, MSRON 11 has trained Djiboutian Navy and Coast Guard service members on maritime navigation, boat operations, vetting, boarding, search and seizure, rescue and casualty care tactics.

“Training with MSRON-11 has deepened our sailors’ understanding and helped us fine-tune our approaches,” said Maitre Adbillahi Hassan Djijal, Djiboutian Navy navigation officer.

“Sailors who participated in the training returned to the barracks every day after training, asking questions and practicing what they learned with each other.”

On Nov. 27, the practice paid off. Pararescuemen from the 449th Expeditionary Air Wing dropped from a C-130 into the Gulf of Aden. Small boat teams took turns extracting the simulated casualties, delivering them to a medical boat for evaluation, then coordinating medical evacuation by the MV-22 Osprey.

“Preparing for this event together helped us better understand who we’re working with, so we can maximize each other’s advantages and overcome disadvantages,” Bravo said. “I believe we did that, and I’m happy to say the event went very well.”

The relationships that MSRON 11 has built with Djiboutian service members underscore the United States’ and Djibouti’s longstanding partnership to ensure regional stability and security.

“It’s exciting to see our sailors engaged in something new and different that is so valuable for our mission,” said Hassan Djijal. “My sailors are excited and they have training that matters and trainers who care about them. I’m really impressed.”

Camp Lemonnier is an operational installation that enables U.S., allied, and partner nation forces to be where they are needed to ensure security and protect U.S. interests. The installation provides world-class support for service members, transient U.S. assets and 38 local tenant commands.

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