Kenyan Paratroopers, U.S. Marines Trade Skills in Edged Mallet Exercise

15 Jan 2004 | Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrea Leahy 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

As part of Exercise Edged Mallet 2004, troops from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Battalion Landing Team taught patrol tactics to Kenyan paratroopers at Bargohl Military Base on Kenya's east coast Jan. 7 through 11.  In return, the paratroopers taught the Marines how to survive in the jungle.

"We taught them ... [how to] follow the baboons and the monkeys because they don't live far from water," said Kenyan Pvt. Alfred Leparie.  "We showed them several fruits, the kind that is poisonous and the kind that is edible."

According to Marine Staff Sgt. Benjamin Williams, "There [wasn't] even a language barrier.  We all understand everything."  Even though most Kenyans speak much more Swahili than English, English is Kenya's official language.  English is also the language used by the military.

Williams said he was impressed by the skills he learned from the Kenyan paratroopers.  One of those skills was how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together-something most Americans have heard of, although few have any idea how to do.

"We appreciate the Marines," said Kenyan Pvt. Kevin Kobia.  "If they have any other chance to come, we'll take them out for a longer time."

Marine Sgt. Josh Eastling would have enjoyed staying longer and taking Kobia up on his offer.  Eastling said he was glad to have a change of pace from the desert terrain where his unit has been training and working for the last few years.  

"It's harder to land navigate [in Kenya]," he said.  "You can't see the terrain here."  Global Positioning and patience helped him find his way through the jungle.

"It's kind of different," said Lance Cpl. Anthony Hartley. "I've been asked a couple times what tribe I'm from."  The African-American Marine said his answer is "the United States."  Hartley also said he wouldn't mind spending more time training with the paratroopers.

"I always have fun in the field. Adapt and overcome, right?" he said with a grin.

During their training, the Marines taught the paratroopers skills for maneuvering, patrolling, and reconnaissance-which the Marines call "recon" and the paratroopers call "recce" (pronounced "wrecky"), a nickname they learned from British military units.

Marine 1st Lt. Marco Serna said the paratroopers and the Marines benefited equally from the training. 

"I think there's definitely a learning curve on both sides," he said.  "We're focusing on patrolling. We did a variety of classes on patrolling and different types of patrols.  [Then we moved on] to the practical application phase."

Exercise Edged Mallet also featured bilateral training between Kenyan and U.S. explosive ordinance disposal technicians and a humanitarian mission that provided medical care for more than a thousand Kenyan civilians in remote areas.

13th Marine Expeditionary Unit