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 was instructed in a myriad of skill sets ranging from advanced light infantry tactics, techniques and procedures to medical first responders. U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command carefully screens and selects each team member, who for this mission, is operationally attached to Special Operations Command South.
These battle-hardened, highly-trained Marines and Sailors, possess unique skills that go beyond those required by their occupational specialties. They are charged with the responsibility to train, advise and assist friendly host-nation forces.
The training they provide enables host-nation forces to support their governments’ internal security and stability by helping them prepare to respond to a wide range of security threats. “In order for this training to succeed, it’s crucial to establish rapport with them immediately, but you have to gain their trust first to help build their confidence,” said MSOT-Eight, 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.
“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.
As a testament to the training provided by MSOT-Eight, many of the host-nation soldiers trained were 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 they have become well rounded individually and a very tight knit group.
Additionally, the teams’ chief hospital corpsmen and weapons NCO 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. “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-Eight 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-Eight 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-Eight Weapons Sergeant.