NSW Trains With Elite Brazilian Unit

NSW Trains With Elite Brazilian Unit

By Dialogo
May 28, 2010

You’ve got to be brave. Seven operators from Naval Special Warfare (NSW) had the opportunity to work with the Brazilian Marine Corps Special Operations Battalion (Tonelero) from April 19 – May 13. This was the first time the U.S. has engaged with this unit in more than 25 years. “We requested this training to exchange tactics with special operations troops who have combat experience. The SEAL operators are the best choice to provide that training,” said Brazilian Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Tunala, the Marine Corps Special Operations Battalion operations and logistics officer. “We focused on urban operations. My Marines are more prepared to conduct these operations now. Our only experience is in Haiti, which is not as complicated as Iraq or Afghanistan. With this training we can improve our operations in Haiti as well as be more prepared to host the World Cup and the Olympics.” This Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) is part of a series requested by the Brazilian government. Topics covered included land warfare, close quarters combat, trauma medicine, over-the-beach missions, and movement through urban and rural environments. The course was taught by the U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault expert SEALS, as well as the maritime mobility experts known as Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC). “Brazil is one of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) priority countries, and we are privileged to be strengthening our relationship here,” said Special Operations Liaison Officer U.S. Air Force Col. John Poast, who facilitates communication directly between SOCOM and the Brazilian military. “Exercises like this one provide an opportunity for tactics exchange and partner nation capacity building that is vital to maintaining security and stability on a global scale.” The NSW operators who traveled to Brazil for the training enjoyed the chance to work with the Tonelero. “When we teach our guys, it’s from scratch. There are no bad habits. For these guys, they already have their base tactics, so we could focus on the smaller things, like the differences and why do things a certain way,” said a SWCC facilitator. “This was not as much ‘this is the only way’, but more, this is why we do it this way, and this is how. If they did it a better way, we took that on board as well. I was impressed that they were so keen to take our tactics on board because they are combat proven.” This exercise was one of many planned to focus on capacity building. “This is a breach—we’re breaching the door with our partners here,” said the lead SEAL for coordinating NSW exercises in this region, who described some of the efforts that went along with the actual training. This exercise fell under the Theater Security Cooperation Program, which is a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense to build rapport between the United States and partner nations. As part of that effort, NSW Seabees, or combat constructionmen, built a new 25-yard marksmanship range and upgraded the shoot house with an additional 6,800 square foot area to allow for more viewing areas for safety observers and more realistic training scenarios. “Naval Special Warfare wants to continue training alongside the Brazilian special forces, and we consider working alongside the Brazilians to improve their training facilities an investment in our partnership.” Although all the men, both Brazilian and American, put in long hours, it was well worth the effort to see what they accomplished. “I found these guys particularly motivated and locked on to learning what we are putting out here,” said a SEAL instructor. “I think our biggest success is that we’ve really exchanged some good skills, and it really surprised me how quickly we formed a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.” “The main challenge was the language barrier, and learning how to train through an interpreter, but we worked through that,” said another SWCC. “This was not a one-sided conversation. Their tactics definitely have their application, and I think if I had to fight in a jungle, this is the unit I would want to work with.”
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