Sailors train Ugandan forces, prepare for advancement
By 2nd Lt. Andrew Bolla
| Marine Corps Forces Africa | July 05, 2013
KAMPALA, Uganda --
Sailors assigned to Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa recently completed their second 10-week training engagement with Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers. While enhancing the capabilities of two UPDF logistics companies over the last six months, U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsmen First Class Hugo Canedo and Brent Pope took the opportunity to increase their own capabilities and prepare for their Fleet Marine Force qualification.
The Fleet Marine Force Enlisted Warfare Specialist Device is a qualification insignia worn by enlisted Sailors assigned to the Fleet Marine Force of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“The FMF device is a sign of distinction between you and your peers- it shows that you have knowledge that most sailors may not even be aware of,” said Canedo, a New York native.
In order to earn the right to wear the FMF device, a sailor must serve one year with a Marine Corps unit, pass the Marine Corps physical fitness test, and complete a variety of exams that demonstrate skills such as weapons fundamentals, land navigation and combat communications.
“You study a lot, get your book signed off in the different sections, complete two tests and a selection board. If you pass all those, then you get the device,” said Pope, a Big Piney, Wyo., native. “For me it will be my third device, and it’s going to be the pinnacle of the three I have.”
The Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist designation is awarded to sailors supporting Marine Corps commands, usually a hospital corpsman or religious programs specialist. Pope and Canedo have spent the last six months in Uganda working with the UPDF on medical training.
“With some of the classes I taught to the UPDF, I took portions that I need to know and put them into the courses I was teaching. It definitely helped put it in my memory,” said Pope.
Pope and Canedo have completed a mock oral board and now must pass a graded oral board and written exam. They have not arrived at this point on their own.
“It’s not just us, everyone has been helping us along the way. It’s pretty much been a group effort,” said Canedo. “When there is free time on the weekends or if there is a break or lull in training, I will approach one of the guys and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to go over this’ and then we’ll tackle that section.”
The sailors will complete the final portion of their qualification examination when they return with Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. For Canedo, the device will serve as a reminder of his time in Uganda.
“Whenever I see myself with that pin I’m going to go back to that time when I was here in Uganda and all the relationships and friendships that we made here,” he said.
Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa strengthens U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) ability to assist partner nations. The approximately 150 U.S. Marines and Sailors conduct security force assistance, military-to-military engagements and are trained to provide support to crisis response.