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USS Blue Ridge Trains with Timor-Leste Military

26 June 2013

From Mass Communication Specialist Bobby Northnagle

Marines and Sailors from U.S. 7th Fleet flagship met with members of the Timor-Leste Defence Force for a military-to-military engagement at Port Hera Navy Base, June 25.

DILI, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste - Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) and Sailors from U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) met with members of the Timor-Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL) for a military-to-military engagement at Port Hera Navy Base Dili, June 25.

Marines shared combat and martial arts techniques, while Sailors offered their expertise in seamanship fundamentals, navigation, first-aid and weapons systems to the emergent F-FDTL.

"We're building relationships with the Timorese," said 7th Fleet Theater Security Coordination Officer Lt. Sylvester Thompson. "This is something we encourage all U.S. Navy ships to do when they visit Dili. They consider us professionals and among the best in our fields."

Navy training topics included knot-tying, preventative maintenance checks on weapons systems, bridge familiarization, chart plotting and responding to casualties.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Justin Cayetano led the medical portion of the engagement, first providing basic training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and then moving on to more advanced responses to common injuries such as controlling bleeding and hemorrhaging.

"They weren't medics, so it was kind of difficult to gauge how much previous training they had in treating injuries," said Cayetano. "After we broke the ice and started to do some hands-on training, it went exceptionally well. Anything the Timorese took away is something that will help save lives in the future."

The importance of saving lives is what drove the FASTPAC representatives to having such a vested interest in their roles. The Marines demonstrated tactics the F-FDTL can use in advanced urban combat, such as how to clear a room of hostiles, and also let the Timorese test their mettle on the mat by practicing Marine Corps martial arts takedowns with them.

"They were eager to learn and enjoyed practicing what we were teaching them." said FASTPAC Platoon Sergeant Staff Sgt. Melbin Medina, who led the martial arts training. "We were able to practice some of the moves they already knew, but there were some techniques they'd never seen before. It gave my Marines an opportunity to share some of their basic knowledge as infantrymen with a newer military force."

Upon wrapping up the various training evolutions Naval Component Commander for F-FDTL Cmdr. Higino das Neves, invited Blue Ridge participants to share lunch with their Timorese counterparts and shared some parting words. "It was good for our crew to learn some specialized training from the American Navy," Neves said. "It will certainly benefit our future."

Blue Ridge is currently in Dili for a port visit while on patrol in the South Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Blue Ridge port visits represent an opportunity to promote peace and stability in the South Indo-Asia-Pacific region, demonstrate commitment to regional partners and foster growing relationships.

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