MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines and Sailors with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command’s Foreign Military Training Unit held a formation here recently to celebrate the unit’s one-year anniversary and the return of four FMTU teams from their successful first operational deployments to South America and Africa.
The FMTU activated in October of 2005 and its original 78 Marines and Sailors immediately set to work developing training standards, methods and procedures to prepare teams to deploy worldwide and conduct Foreign Internal Defense missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
The first two of 24 planned FMTU teams were established, equipped, trained, and prepared to accept missions within months of FMTU’s activation.
Now, just one year later, FMTU includes 294 Marines and Sailors throughout its headquarters and a company of 10 teams.
FMTU will eventually consist of two companies of twelve teams each.
To prepare for deployment, each FMTU team completes hundreds of hours of culture and language training in French, Spanish, Russian or Arabic in addition to extensive cross training in a wide range of military specialties including communication, intelligence, field medicine, weapons and tactics.
While honing personal military skills, FMTU team members also learn training and teaching techniques necessary to pass their skills on to fellow warriors in the militaries of friendly foreign nations.
The six-month FMTU training cycle culminates with a nine-day Operational Readiness Exercise to evaluate the teams' ability to live, work, and train side-by-side with foreign troops in an austere environment.
Foreign Internal Defense missions like those successfully conducted by the first four deployed FMTU teams help ensure stability and security in areas not currently embroiled in the Global War on Terrorism.
Deployment of small teams to assist and train foreign militaries today helps prevent the spread of terrorism and avoid the need to deploy larger forces in the future.
“We helped establish rapport and made a basic assessment of their capabilities,” said a team sergeant, referring to his team’s recent deployment to North Africa. “We were the first U.S. force to train with that unit. Our training set the foundation and the Marines’ initiative took care of the rest.”
Another FMTU team deployed to a different part of Africa and met with similar success.
“We gave initial training to an anti-terrorism battalion,” explained one team leader. “We also gained a common understanding of their culture, which made our deployment a big success.”
Maj. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, spoke about FMTU’s successful first deployments during FMTU’s anniversary formation.
“Senior members of the units we’ve trained have told us that they only want Marines to train them,” Hejlik said. “That should tell you a lot about the Marines and Sailors in FMTU.”
With only one year under its belt, FMTU has come a long way: A comprehensive training package was developed and implemented; new teams continue to form and prepare for deployment; and the first teams are safely home following successful missions.
FMTU’s Marines and Sailors have proven MARSOC’s ability to integrate effectively into special operations and set a high standard of success for future MARSOC missions.
“I’ve seen this organization emerge from basically nothing into what we have today, and that’s amazing,” one team sergeant said.
“We are going to have more teams, more manpower and our mission is going to expand,” said Lt. Col. Daniel R. Kaiser, executive officer of FMTU. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are definitely on the right path.”