Securing the Boat: Djiboutian Navy Hones Tactics
"This is the Kennedy," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Albert "Boats" Perret, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa small boat tactics instructor, as he pointed to the schematics of a small boat, which were displayed on the far wall of a conference room overlooking the pier at Djibouti, Djibouti, November 23. "Its name has changed six times (to confuse the authorities) since it left Somalia on its way to this harbor."
Perret paused and scanned the class of Djiboutian Navy service members sitting before him. They studied the schematics intently before returning their attention to him.
"We have reason to believe the Kennedy may be carrying weapons, oil and drugs," Perret continued. "Your mission is to find this boat, intercept it, board it and secure it back to port."
As the briefing ended, Perret and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christian Jimenez, CJTF-HOA small boat tactics assistant instructor, watched the Djiboutians proceed toward the pier for the final exercise in their small boat tactics familiarization course. Both petty officers said they were confident in the skills and abilities the Djiboutian sailors were about to demonstrate.
"They have absorbed everything we have discussed," Jimenez said. "This exercise is all about building partnerships and helping them prepare for their upcoming deployments."
While the Djiboutians received final instructions from their unit commander, Perret and Jimenez assumed the captain and first mate roles on the Kennedy. Within seconds after the Djiboutians boarded the vessel they secured and detained both petty officers, then proceeded to search the boat for contraband.
"I learned to be careful and thorough when searching the boat, or it could mean the lives of my fellow crew members," Djiboutian Navy Mate 1st Class Idriss Degahlen said. "These tactics have made a big difference. I feel I have the experience necessary to do what I have to do should a situation like this arise."
When the exercise concluded, both the Djiboutians and the petty officers evaluated the scenario and assessed what they learned from the exercise. Djiboutian Navy Corporal Djirde Hassan said the live exercise made him feel more prepared to handle real-world scenarios that could put his fellow service members in danger.
"If something happens and we have to deal with it in real life, I can fall back on my training," Hassan said. "I can take everything I've learned and use it to help my friends when they need me."
Perret said the commitment and dedication of the Djibotians was inspiring.
"It was an honor to work with them," he said. "I love working with new people, learning new things and experiencing ideas from a different perspective."