U.S. Marines Provide Martial Arts Training to Honduran Marines
By Dialogo October 23, 2015
Marines with Marine Forces-South (MARFOR-South), a component with the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), trained Honduran Navy (FNH Spanish acronym) combat instructors in martial arts from late August and early September so that the FNH service members could teach the self-defense technique and other skills to their Military colleagues.
Five officers and a physician with the U.S. Marine Corps taught the combat techniques to new unit of the FNH made up of 11 officers and non-commissioned officers at the Trujillo Colón Base in Puerto Castilla, said Lieutenant Álvaro Reyes Solano, director of Honduras’s Naval Training Center (CAN).
“Some of the Honduran officers are naval specialists and others are combat divers. All have been instructors with a great deal of experience in fighting organized crime and drug trafficking."
The three-week course prepared FNH service members to engage in hand-to-hand combat with violent gang members from Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18 (M-18), and other criminal organizations.
A physically demanding course
Battling organized crime is physically demanding, and so was the training.
The Honduran combat instructors – all between the ages of 22 and 30 – sparred with each other and learned how to disarm the opposition, in addition improving their strength and endurance by engaging in long walks and exercises carrying logs.
“The course was difficult, dynamic, and practical," Lieutenant Reyes explained. "Our officers trained and studied during more than 14 hours a day. All of this falls within the instructional plan for the Marines who we are beginning to train in this country. This is an initiative of the Honduran Navy. We train at the level of the U.S. Marines.”
Additionally, FNH Marines participated in 18 to 22 classes that included an instructor firearms course; an instructor course in machine guns; a class in urban operations; and a combat search and rescue course. The U.S. Marine Corps’ Marine Air-Ground Task Force for the Special Operations Command-South, which is led by Captain Juan Díaz, trained the Hondurans.
“The U.S. and Honduran Marine Corps working teams have managed an excellent working relationship, precise coordination, and a sense of brotherhood in raising the prestige of the Armed Forces,” Lt. Reyes explained.
FNH combat instructors train fellow Hondurans
After the lessons, the Honduran combat instructors quickly put the martial arts training to use. In September, shortly after they had completed the SOUTHCOM course, the FNH instructors trained 80 members of the FNH at the CAN while being monitored by the U.S. Marines who had taught them.
“The U.S. Marine team of instructors is satisfied because when they reviewed the instruction being offered by Honduran officers, they found nothing that needed improvement. The Troops, officers, and NCOs are relieved because the training they received is in new doctrine, with lessons from countries that have done battle in other lands. We, who are waging this symmetrical war against drug traffickers, have achieved a new instructional program, and we see how satisfied the institution is with the program.”
The FNH combat instructors, who awarded certificates to the 80 members after completing the course, will train another 30 to 40 Honduran Navy service members in January 2016 and will continue to teach their colleagues for at least three years.
Cooperating to fight organized crime
Joint training is an important component of the ongoing cooperation between Honduras and the U.S. in the fight against organized crime.
“This is an example of how the Honduran Marine Corps is evolving,” Lt. Reyes stated. “The Marine Corps wants to grow because we are the ones who guard the rivers, lakes, and coastline – that is where we are focused and have projections for the war on terror and the war on drugs.”
The FNH consists of 1,100 service members, according to the 2014 Comparative Atlas of Defense in Latin America and the Caribbean, published by the Latin American Security and Defense Network. It operates from five Navy bases: Puerto Cortes, Puerto Castilla, Amapala, Caratasca, and La Ceiba, while another naval unit, the 800-member First Marine Battalion, is at the La Ceiba Navy Base, according to the website Orden de batalla internacional.