KADU, Maldives -- Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) held a leadership transformation course for the non-commissioned officers of the Maldivian National Defense Force while on the island of Kadu.
Elements of the 15th MEU (SOC) are conducting bilateral training and humanitarian assistance operations in the Maldives as part of the Marine Forces Pacific theatre security cooperation program in South Asia.
Thirteen MNDF students participated in the five day intensive training session designed to teach valuable leadership skills to their NCOs.
According to 1stSgt Gonzalo “Butch” Vasquez, Sergeant Major for Combat Logistics Battalion 15 (CLB-15), “Leadership is one of the specific things they mentioned to the 15th MEU advanced planning team who initially conducted the site visit to the Maldives.”
Vasquez further explained that planning commenced as far back as August when it became known that the CLB would participate in bilateral training with the MNDF.
Vasquez explained the Maldivian National Defense Force does not have an NCO cadre or academy. Though the MNDF has some leadership courses, they normally send their young leaders abroad for officer training.
Gunnery Sgt Joseph Kellogg, Administrative Chief, CLB-15, explained the training team spent four long days training the MNDF troops starting at 6 a.m. with physical training, followed by classes and ending the day with more PT at around 7 p.m.
“We’ve been teaching their NCOs more or less how to be a leader. So we’ve been training them in leadership, drill—basically teaching our Corporal’s course to them,” said Kellogg.
Though there was a slight language barrier and differences in the military organization between the Marines and MNDF, Kellogg explained that the MNDF soldiers responded very well to the training they received.
“They adjusted really well. You can teach them drill and in two steps they’ve caught on. They were motivated to learn so they picked everything up rather quick,” said Kellogg.
Another instructor at the leadership transformation course was Staff Sgt Patrick Stevens, a diesel mechanic with CLB-15. Stevens taught the MNDF students some leadership basics such as the traits and principles, organizing physical training regimes and conducting guided discussions.
“They’ve been awesome—outstanding. They’re motivated and I think they did well and I hope they take away as much of this experience as we have,” said Stevens.
“I think they like the new approach. They are sent abroad for training so they are well versed in other militaries. I think they like that the US Marines are here and they take in as much as they can,” said Stevens.
The leadership transformation was part of Exercise Coconut Grove, which ran from Oct. 25-30. The 15th MEU (SOC), part of Expeditionary Strike Group 5 aboard the USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and the USS Comstock (LSD 45), is currently deployed in the Western Pacific Region.