BUNDASE TRAINING CAMP, Ghana --
“Welcome to Camp Scorpion” were the words cut flawlessly into the giant wooden sign ushering Brig. Gen. Paul Brier, commander of Marine Forces Africa, to the Marine’s side of camp as he arrived to observe the partnership between U.S. Marines and Ghanaian Armed Forces, March 17.
Brig. Gen. John Forkuo, director general of training for the Ghanaian Army, accompanied Brier to the camp to observe an afternoon of military instruction and thank the Marines for volunteering to be part of America’s fighting force.
“Americans are always ready to assist us in every way,” said Forkuo.
Marines with the Security Cooperation Marine Air Ground Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 10, have been participating in military-to-military familiarization events with the Ghanaian Army since March 9 in an effort to strengthen relations with partner nations and increase their ability to respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief crises.
“We’re continuing to build a relationship and a common understanding of each other’s capabilities that will help us to facilitate their ability to respond to crises such as humanitarian disasters, but also to build long-term partnerships based on shared concerns,” said Brier.
The two generals watched the Marines and Ghanaians practicing offensive and defensive tactics as well as patrolling. The troops have also trained for military operations in urban terrain and Marine Corps martial arts.
“I think they’re doing great,” said Brier. “The Ghanaian army is one of the most proficient militaries in Africa and one of the most professional I have ever seen. They are very well-respected by the populous.”
While classes cover all of the fundamentals, the main focus of the event is to increase the Ghanaians ability to respond to crises in their own country. Recently, the Ghanaian military has begun to focus on supporting civilian disasters.
“This training is necessary to get us in readiness to help assist our sister nations in Africa,” said Forkuo. “We learn from each other and we will achieve interoperability with the Americans if we all work together.”
Brier commended the SCMAGTF on their participation in Operation Unified Response in Haiti after the massive earthquake and explained the benefits having that real-life experience before working with the GAF to help them develop their own humanitarian assistance and disaster relief plans.
“These Marines had just been to Haiti doing this exact mission in supporting the Haitians during their disaster,” said Brier.
After the formation, Brier took a tour of the camp, noting the expeditionary dining area, gym, and shower station expertly constructed by Seabees attached to the SCMAGTF. The SCMAGTF has built the camp from the ground up.
In the one week they have inhabited Bundase Training Camp, four tents have been set up in the grassy field for Marines and Sailors to sleep in, picnic tables and showers were built with wooden palettes, and a gym was constructed out of two-by-fours and pipes so Marines can maintain their physical fitness while in the heart of Africa.
“We had the gym built before the showers were even up,” said Gunnery Sgt. James Baum, senior enlisted Marine for the SCMAGTF while in Ghana. “Typical Marines, that’s how we do it.”