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Naval Special Warfare Unit trains with Guatemalan Special Forces.

Members of a Naval Special Warfare Unit recently trained with the Fuerza Especial Naval (FEN), the Guatemalan Naval Special Forces, in San Jose, Guatemala, as part of a five-week Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercise focusing on maritime interdiction.

During the JCET, FEN members trained in weapons handling, boat handling, boat inserts and extracts, tactical formations and vectoring for interception of watercrafts by naval special warfare instructors.

The training is intended to build military capacity, rapport and relationships through a partnership with the Guatemalan military, specifically the Guatemalan Navy.

"Our goal is to effectively train the FEN force," said a U.S. Navy special warfare combatant-craft crewman (SWCC), whose name is withheld for security reasons. "We are here to lay a foundation to build a new skill set on. Ultimately, they will be able to operate when they need to, solely by themselves."

FEN members were also able to see the benefits of working alongside their American counterparts.

"The Americans bring certain skills and tools to make us better," said Jose Ramon Contreras Lopez, FEN junior officer. "By working with them, I hope we learn new ways to operate and improve our technical and communication skills to become better at our jobs."


For both U.S. and Guatemalan military personnel, JCETs have become especially important in building cooperation in the effort to enhance regional stability throughout Central America.

"Drugs flow from South America to the North," said another SWCC facilitator. "That flow makes a pit stop in Central America. We are helping the FEN by providing them the tools to deter and stop this trafficking. This training will hopefully help break that bridge in the trafficking route."

For these goals to be accomplished, the U.S. and the FEN must work together and overcome several barriers in the training.

"The language barrier is tough, but we have capable translators within our team," a SWCC facilitator said. "Sometimes it's tough to get our message across when it comes down to technical terms."

The FEN also has several sailors who speak English, to help in the communication of the tactics presented during the training.

"With me speaking English, it helps with the language barrier," said Lopez. "We have different terms than the Americans for some of the same tactics; I can help teach my guys what is being taught by working together with the instructors. I can also tell the instructors what types of techniques we are trained in and use to and maybe [the Americans] can learn from us, as well as us learning from them."

Although some tactics between the militaries are different, members of both nations have been able to find common ground during the training.

"Our concepts of operations are sometimes totally different than their concepts of operation," said a SWCC facilitator. "So, we have to work together to help and explain how and why we do the things the way we do, so they can get the best understanding of the training being conducted."

Story by MC2 Jacob L. Dillon, Naval Special Warfare Group 2, Little Creek, Va.

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Title Annotation:This Just In; Fuerza Especial Naval
Author:Dillon, Jacob L.
Publication:All Hands
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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