4th Combat Engineer Battalion returns home from deployment with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa
By Cpl. Tiffany Edwards
| 4th Marine Division | January 30, 2014
PARKVILLE, Md. --
After spending six months in the mild climes of Italy and the sweltering humidity of Africa, the ice and snow that greeted them in Baltimore was a drastic change for the Marines of 4th Combat Engineer Battalion. The Marines returned home to their families and civilian lives, Jan. 21, 2014. During their deployment, 4th CEB served as the primary element of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13.3.
4th Combat Engineer Battalion
Special Purpose MAGTF Africa
Joined by 32 other Reserve units, 4th CEB trained militaries across the African continent, gained knowledge and expanded their brotherhood of warriors. During their deployment, the unit traveled to Ghana, Mauritania, Uganda, Burundi, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Djibouti. Special-Purpose MAGTF teams provided assistance and training to the African nations in areas such as logistics, counterterrorism, communications, non-lethal weapons training, maritime security force assistance, military planning, small-unit leadership and vehicle maintenance.
“The Marines went down into the continent and trained their host nations in those specific areas, so their militaries could be self-sufficient,” said Sgt. Maj. Athanasios K. Verros, the sergeant major of 4th CEB.
After African partner nations requested training engagements with Marines, the Department of Defense and the U.S. State Department developed Special-Purpose MAGTF Africa in 2011. Not only did the African nations receive their requested training, but soldiers who completed the training cycles with the Marines earn additional certifications and pay raises.
The training also gave service members from all nations the unique opportunity for international networking.
“Our Marines did their best to learn about the country they are deploying to prior to getting there, but a lot of that real education occurs when making friends within the host nation, learning their customs and how they train their soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Marble, commanding officer of 4th CEB.
The new connections contribute to sustaining global diplomatic relations, stabilizing war-torn regions and effectively countering terrorism, Verros added.
Participating in overseas security cooperation is a low-cost, high-impact way for Marines to assist African host nations in addressing their security challenges, Marble said.
“We go there to try to help streamline and professionalize their militaries,” Marble said. “The Marine Corps does very well in leadership and organization and a lot of these countries know our history and seek us out. This gives our Marines a chance to see the differences between how we operate and our host nations’ militaries operate.”
Now the Marines are back home, bringing with them months of experiences to share and develop throughout their military careers and civilian lives.
“We met a lot of good people, and we were able to conduct and be a part of a lot of good training,” said Cpl. Eric Tyree, a data systems technician. “I would definitely go back if given the chance.”