Nineteen U.S. Army Soldiers successfully completed the first phase of the French Desert Commando Course alongside French partners at the Centre Dentrainment Au Combat Djibouti (CECAD), in Arta Plage, Djibouti April 23, 2018.
1st Lt. Louis Gignet, French Combat Engineer Corps, one of seven French soldiers embedded with American classmates, was challenged both physically and mentally throughout the grueling 4-day initial phase of the course.
“We learned how to live in the desert, completed two team obstacle courses, one during the day and one at night, and an individual course designed to help you overcome fear of the empty space beneath you.” said Gignet.
Though challenging and fast paced, U.S. Army Spc. Mikala Leal, Hotel Company, 949th Brigade Support Battalion, was able to learn and relate to her French classmates.
“We were able to exchange ideas and thoughts, see how they move tactically compared to our own movement, and see how strong they are alongside of us.” said Leal.
During the survival part of the course the Soldiers were given instruction in subjects that were familiar to their traditional training such as land navigation, but some new tasks were presented to them as well.
“I built my first fire here. I have never built a fire before; it was awesome.” said Leal.
Though the initial phase lasted only four days, a resounding impact was left both on our Soldiers and their French classmates.
“It was a very good experience, I have appreciated these moments the last few days getting to share these experiences with American warriors.” said Gignet.