NAVAL BASE EL BLUFF, Nicaragua -- Eight Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Continuing Promise 2010 climbed out of the USS Iwo Jima Sept. 19 to begin a five-day subject-matter expert exchange with Nicaraguan Sailors and Marines at a remote Nicaraguan Naval base on the island of El Bluff, near the coast of Bluefields, Nicaragua.
After climbing down a rope-ladder and boarding a small Nicaraguan navy vessel, the eight Marines (seven non-commissioned officers and one Staff NCO), headed full-speed toward Naval Base El Bluff, to immediately begin giving a leadership course to eight members of the Nicaraguan navy and Marine Corps.
"We wanted our men to learn from Marines because Marines are renowned for their strong NCO leadership," said Capt. Julio Cesar Zapata, commanding officer of Naval Base El Bluff. "This exchange is an excellent opportunity for them to learn what makes Marine Corps leadership so unique and effective and then apply those skills to our operating forces."
The leadership course consisted of six hours of classroom instruction each day on topics ranging from leadership styles, mentoring, counseling and practical application on topics such as devising a five-paragraph order prior to launching an operation.
Additional classes included first-aid and methods for conducting unit physical training.
The student body was comprised of one junior Nicaraguan navy lieutenant, a Nicaraguan navy petty officer, and six soon-to-be Nicaraguan Marine Corps corporals.
"These classes proved very beneficial for us," said Lt. Antonio Cortez Rodriguez, the Nicaraguan lieutenant taking the course. "We break down our force into small units and depend upon strong NCOs to ensure the mission gets done.
These classes gave us ideas like implementing a mentorship program in our ranks and incorporating more PT into our daily training schedules."
Nicaragua is the fourth nation of Operation Continuing Promise 2010 where United States Marines operating from the USS Iwo Jima stepped ashore to conduct subject-matter expert exchanges similar to the one conducted in El Bluff.
In Colombia, three platoons of Marines conducted a SMEE with members of the Colombian Marine Corps. In Costa Rica, a platoon of Marines held an exchange with members of the Costa Rican Coast Guard and police force. And in Guatemala, three platoons of Marines worked with Guatemalan special forces soldiers or "Kaibiles" at two different training bases.
"It’s a thrill to take part in these exchanges," said Sgt. Jonathan S. Frazier, one of the eight instructors on the Nicaragua SMEE. "It’s a chance to see what the Marine Corps is capable of with its expeditionary capabilities in increasing our interoperability with partner nations and preparing for future conflicts and crisis."