USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC-20) -- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and Spanish coalition forces expanded their capabilities during bilateral training Jan. 18.
"The purpose of this exercise was to build coalition cooperation and share tactics between forces to improve overall capabilities," said Cmdr. Eric Whiteman, CJTF-HOA maritime command element officer-in-charge.
Spanish special forces from SPS Patino, a supply ship, sent an HAF (Helo-bourne Assault Force) of Spanish Marines who fast roped aboard and completed a take down of the CJTF-HOA headquarters flagship. After the evolution, the Spanish Marines also toured the ship.
Meanwhile, security detachment Marines boarded SPS Patino to demonstrate to the Spanish Marines how they guard a naval vessel.
"The purpose was to show them how we perform ship security and to also see how they do the same," said Capt. Jaisun Hanson, security detachment officer-in-charge.
According to Hanson, the concepts for ship security between the two units were very much similar, however the weapons systems varied. The Spanish still used the .50 and .25 caliber machine guns but, some of the other weapons are not normally used by U.S. forces.
According to Hanson, both forces were able to learn from each other during the exchange and hope more exchanges occur in the future.
"No matter what the exercise, working with coalition forces will always enable both ends to learn about each others tactics," said Hanson, Auburn Hills, Mich. native. "We would love to have an opportunity like this again."
That opportunity may not be very far away, according to Whiteman.
"We expect more events like this in the future, and although the names of the ships may be different, the training will continue," he said. "Other countries that we plan to continue this bilateral training with are France, Spain, Germany and Britain, as they are the countries that make up CTF-150, along with the US."
"The experience was certainly different," said Cpl. Ricky J. Villacis, security detachment and Brooklyn, N.Y. native. "They seemed to listen to us very well and paid close attention to what we had to say."