Monday, January 24, 2011

Theater Security Cooperation Task Force Marines, Sailors Conduct MCMAP Training

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lauren G. Randall, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

USS GUNSTON HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- Marines and Sailors attached to Amphibious Southern Partnership Station 2011 (A-SPS 11) Theater Security Cooperation Task Force (TSCTF) began Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) training on board the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock-landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) Jan. 17.

The training is intended to prepare the Sailors and Marines for numerous subject matter expert exchanges during A-SPS 11.

MCMAP is designed to help develop a cohesive unit and teach the value of teamwork and survival skills. The three main objectives of MCMAP are to build character, mental readiness and physical fitness.

During the character building stage, instructors teach Marines and Sailors about morals, values and dependability. The unit or team must be able to depend on each member for all aspects of survival.

"I wanted to know what my Marines go through; I wanted to get some of the same training," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Sherrie L. Morris, A-SPS 11 TSCTF chief medical specialist. "It establishes a greater rapport and makes me more relatable to them and them to me as well. I'm wearing their uniform and it deserves their respect."

Mental readiness brings thought and intelligence to the forefront. The group must be able to process information as well as respond decisively to a variety of situations.

"It gives me basic defense skills, which is now helpful to our missions," said Morris. "The Navy is no longer traditionally only on board ships; we go where (Marines) go now. We are on land as well, and this gives us the skill to defend."

Physical fitness is a large part of the program and is accomplished through many different types of training scenarios, including the fireman's carry and sand bag drills. The training teaches the Marines and Sailors how to keep going even when they are physically and mentally exhausted.

"Whether it's staying up all night, water survival or MCMAP, physical fitness is vital to our exchanges during SPS," said Lance Cpl. Philip Clark, SCTF motor transportation.

Gunston Hall is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility supporting A-SPS 11. The mission's concept is based on the idea that well-structured, open and multi-lateral partnerships increase regional stability and security, while helping one another to improve its own capabilities.

MCMAP will be one of the areas of focus for a subject matter expert exchange between U.S. Marines and Colombian forces. Service members will also exchange professional expertise with Colombian forces in areas such as water survival, combat marksmanship and land navigation.

A-SPS 11 will cultivate greater cooperation between partner nations, allowing for better interoperability and increased capabilities for both forces. The mission's schedule includes visits to Colombia, Guatemala, Belize and Jamaica.

"I am excited to conduct subject matter expert exchanges with not only MCMAP, but also explosive ordnance disposal exchanges, water survival and motor transportation operations with our South American and Caribbean Island and Central American partner nations," said Gunnery Sgt. Don Ketcham, MCMAP senior instructor.

Amphibious Southern Partnership Station 2011 is a United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)-directed operation implemented by Commander, United States Naval Forces South (COMUSNAVSO), supported by United States Marine Corps Forces South (MARFORSOUTH) and carried out by Commander, Destroyer Squadron Four Zero (CDS40), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and a Marine Corps Theater Security Cooperation Task Force.

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