French, US Service Members Undergo Desert Survival Training

DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - French Marine Major Thierry Marien, 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, welcomes U.S. service members and sets ground rules for the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. The 10-day DSCC teaches French and U.S. service members how to live and fight in a desert environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - French Marine Major Thierry Marien, 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, welcomes U.S. service members and sets ground rules for the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. The 10-day DSCC teaches French and U.S. service members how to live and fight in a desert environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - A French Marine instructor, 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, teaches self-aid and buddy care to French and U.S. service members at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. During the self-aid and buddy care class, the service members learned how to use tourniquets, bandages and treat for shock. The 10-day DSCC teaches students basics about how to live and fight in a desert environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - A French Marine instructor, 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, teaches self-aid and buddy care to French and U.S. service members at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. During the self-aid and buddy care class, the service members learned how to use tourniquets, bandages and treat for shock. The 10-day DSCC teaches students basics about how to live and fight in a desert environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - French Marine Captain Gael Blanchard, 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, teaches field tactics to French Marines from the 21st Marine Regiment and U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Camp Lemonnier at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. The 10-day DSCC teaches students basics about how to live and fight in a desert environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - French Marine Captain Gael Blanchard, 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, teaches field tactics to French Marines from the 21st Marine Regiment and U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Camp Lemonnier at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. The 10-day DSCC teaches students basics about how to live and fight in a desert environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - French Marines from the 21st Marine Regiment and U.S. service members look at a map during a topography class at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. The topography class included map reading, building a compass, star navigation and building a sundial. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - French Marines from the 21st Marine Regiment and U.S. service members look at a map during a topography class at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. The topography class included map reading, building a compass, star navigation and building a sundial. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - A French Marine from the 21st Marine Regiment communicates over the radio during a nighttime resupply at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. Every night during the course the trainees were required to navigate to a resupply location and pick up food and water for the next day. The French and U.S. service members used the DSCC to develop their desert survival and combat skills while building international relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 1, 2011) - A French Marine from the 21st Marine Regiment communicates over the radio during a nighttime resupply at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 1. Every night during the course the trainees were required to navigate to a resupply location and pick up food and water for the next day. The French and U.S. service members used the DSCC to develop their desert survival and combat skills while building international relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 2, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members line up for food that they learned to cook earlier in the day at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 2. The course taught the service members to prepare goat, medicinal tea and pancakes. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 2, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members line up for food that they learned to cook earlier in the day at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 2. The course taught the service members to prepare goat, medicinal tea and pancakes. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 3, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members climb a mountain during a land navigation course at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 3. The land navigation course gave the DSCC participants an opportunity to practice their map reading and GPS skills. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 3, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members climb a mountain during a land navigation course at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 3. The land navigation course gave the DSCC participants an opportunity to practice their map reading and GPS skills. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - A French Marine instructor from 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion educates French Marines and U.S. service members how to travel in caravans using camels to carry equipment and supplies during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - A French Marine instructor from 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion educates French Marines and U.S. service members how to travel in caravans using camels to carry equipment and supplies during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - Models and placeholders illustrate how to set up a traveling caravan during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. Throughout the DSCC participants used camels to transport water, food and supplies. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - Models and placeholders illustrate how to set up a traveling caravan during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. Throughout the DSCC participants used camels to transport water, food and supplies. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members practice troop movements and receiving contact from opposing forces during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. The French Marines attending the course were from 21st Marine Regiment and the U.S. service members were from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Camp Lemonnier. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members practice troop movements and receiving contact from opposing forces during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. The French Marines attending the course were from 21st Marine Regiment and the U.S. service members were from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Camp Lemonnier. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Christopher Charles Clerico, 366th Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native, provides security for a night resupply during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. Water and food supplies were replenished on a regular basis. The 10-day course which brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 4, 2011) - U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Christopher Charles Clerico, 366th Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native, provides security for a night resupply during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 4. Water and food supplies were replenished on a regular basis. The 10-day course which brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 5, 2011) - French Marine Sergeant Bernard Patrice, 21st Marine Regiment, gives a pre-mission brief to U.S. Marines from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 5. French and U.S. Marines trained together on how to fight and survive in the desert.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 5, 2011) - French Marine Sergeant Bernard Patrice, 21st Marine Regiment, gives a pre-mission brief to U.S. Marines from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 5. French and U.S. Marines trained together on how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 5, 2011) - U.S. Marine Corporal Evan Carrillo, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Houston, Texas, native, provides security for a patrol during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 5. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 5, 2011) - U.S. Marine Corporal Evan Carrillo, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Houston, Texas, native, provides security for a patrol during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 5. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 5, 2011) - French Marine Captain Gael Blanchard (right), 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, critiques care under fire training with French and U.S. service members during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 5. The French Marines attending the course were from 21st Marine Regiment and the U.S. service members were from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Camp Lemonnier. The DSCC is a French-led, 10-day course where service members learned to live and fight in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 5, 2011) - French Marine Captain Gael Blanchard (right), 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion, critiques care under fire training with French and U.S. service members during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 5. The French Marines attending the course were from 21st Marine Regiment and the U.S. service members were from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Camp Lemonnier. The DSCC is a French-led, 10-day course where service members learned to live and fight in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - French Marine Private 1st Class David Savigant, 21st Marine Regiment, observes the terrain from a fighting position at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The training brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - French Marine Private 1st Class David Savigant, 21st Marine Regiment, observes the terrain from a fighting position at the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The training brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - U.S. Army Sergeant Casey Gile, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, herds goats during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The DSCC taught French and U.S. service members how to cook what locals in the region eat and drink. Gile's hometown is Topeka, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - U.S. Army Sergeant Casey Gile, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, herds goats during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The DSCC taught French and U.S. service members how to cook what locals in the region eat and drink. Gile's hometown is Topeka, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members prepare food during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members prepare food during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The 10-day course brought French and U.S. service members together to learn how to fight and survive in the desert. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members return fire during a simulated attack on their campsite during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The DSCC taught trainees to create and defend campsites. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 6, 2011) - French Marines and U.S. service members return fire during a simulated attack on their campsite during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 6. The DSCC taught trainees to create and defend campsites. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 9, 2011) - U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Zachary Bailey, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, lays down suppressive fire during a simulated assault on a training site during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 9. The DSCC taught trainees to live and fight in various terrains. Bailey's hometown is Leavenworth, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 9, 2011) - U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Zachary Bailey, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, lays down suppressive fire during a simulated assault on a training site during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 9. The DSCC taught trainees to live and fight in various terrains. Bailey's hometown is Leavenworth, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 9, 2011) - A French Marine from the 21st Marine Regiment calls in a status update during a simulated assault on a training site during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 9. The DSCC taught trainees to live and fight in various terrains. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Nov. 9, 2011) - A French Marine from the 21st Marine Regiment calls in a status update during a simulated assault on a training site during the Desert Survival and Combat Course November 9. The DSCC taught trainees to live and fight in various terrains. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)

As the morning sun peered through a tangled web of acacia tree branches, service members from France and the U.S. sat on the rocky ground of the Grand Bara Desert near Goubetto, Djibouti, listening to an instructor detail proper caravan troop placement.

The lesson was part of the French military's 10-day Desert Survival Combat Course, November 1-10, which spanned more than 50 miles and included French Marines and U.S. service members.

"The aim of the training is to give the trainees several tactical and survival tools in order to be able to live and survive in the desert," said French Marine Captain Gael Blanchard, 5th Infantry Overseas Battalion and DSCC lead instructor. "The Djibouti field is appropriate to train soldiers in a difficult environment with the heat, sun and wind."

The heat and direct sunlight caused service members, who carried up to 50 pounds of equipment and water on their backs, to drench their uniforms in sweat, which restricted movement even more once their clothing dried.

"The training isn't complicated or mentally difficult - the challenge is being physically prepared for everything," said U.S. Army Chaplain (1st Lieutenant) Monty Johnson, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery Kansas National Guard non-denominational Christian chaplain. "It's a very intense learning experience. We moved at night to avoid the heat. Our down time was during classes throughout the day."

The participants were taught combat lifesaving skills, field tactics, land navigation, proper hydration and water source location, survival cooking, fire building, setting traps, caravanning and weapons training. These lessons, taught primarily in French, were bridged by hikes between the class locations. Overall, communication difficulties between the French and the Americans only slightly impacted work between the service members, said Johnson.

"Even though there were some language difficulties, they were still able to communicate," said U.S. Navy Commander Douglas Wahl, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa oceanographer. "We worked things out and accomplished our missions." Even through the language barrier and physical hardships, the French Marines praised their U.S. counterparts.

"I'm always very happy to train U.S. soldiers (during DSCC)," said Blanchard. "Even if it is difficult for them to follow the course because of the language barrier, they try to give the best effort they can." Johnson said he was able to use the time hiking to focus on his faith, as well as encourage the other individuals in his group.

"I spent a lot of time during the walks praying," he said. "I took my mind somewhere else and talked to God. It made the time fly by faster, and also inspired me to walk up and down the marching line - checking up on the people. After a while, the French started calling me 'padre' as they expected my routine encouragement."

According to Johnson, one of the classes, which required a good deal of effort, involved participants learning how to butcher, cook and eat a goat.

"It was disgusting," said Johnson. "I'm perfectly happy never eating goat again."

After their meal, the service members packed up their camp sites and began a 13-mile hike to a new location - applying the skills they learned during the day throughout the walk. Students were required to defend their ranks from attacks while scavenging for water. They were also charged with defending their camp while operating on a minimal sleep rotation.

"It was an eye-opening experience," said U.S. Army Sergeant Gordon Lane Smith III, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion non-commissioned officer. "It was very taxing, but I would absolutely do it again. The longer we were out here, the more the French treated us like we have been friends all our lives. They made us feel like members of their family."

Johnson said the bonding and sense of accomplishment that came both before and after crossing the finish line made the entire physical and mental challenge worthwhile.

"After it was over, I spoke with my wife. She told me I hadn't smiled that broadly in years," he said. "I was in my element. I love being in the field, being a soldier and encouraging other soldiers. The desert made me realize I'm where I need to be, and doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing."

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