Story Number: NNS140811-17Release Date: 8/11/2014 3:27:00 PM
By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, International Security Assistance Force Headquarters
KABUL, Afghanistan (NNS) -- The adage of gaining "experience under your belt" certainly applies to a naval officer assigned to International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, who recently acquired his Marine Corps Black Belt during his second tour in Afghanistan.
While assigned to the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AFPAK) Hand Program, Lt. Cmdr. Josh Frey has obtained many vital skills to add to his repertoire, to include speaking fluent Dari, but also hand-to-hand combat.
"I started learning the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program about five years ago when I was a Civil Affairs team leader," said Frey, who has served as a public affairs officer his entire naval career. "I arranged for my team to learn from the MCMAP center at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego."
This "thinking outside of the box" five years before taking an assignment with the AFPAK Hand Program has helped Frey in countless ways both physically and mentally.
"As an AFPAK Hand, this training enables me to have another layer of defense. I operate in the population every day and must do so in a discreet manner to blend in and not draw attention to myself," said Frey. "The MCMAP training gives me many tools but it also provides me the confidence and warrior ethos that I am the weapon."
MCMAP is a combat system developed by the United States Marine Corps to combine existing and new hand-to-hand and close quarters, combat techniques, character development with morale and team-building functions and instruction in the warrior ethos. One of the instructors at ISAF who provided Frey additional training and qualified him as a Marine Corps Black Belt is Marine Sgt. Justin Vogt.
Vogt, who obtained his Black Belt in January 2012, and has been a Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor since September 2011, discussed the leadership and teamwork values obtained from undertaking this type of training.
"Conducting this training on ISAF gives us as instructors the ability to work with many different nations and increase the comradery among coalition forces," said Vogt. "It also exposes the Marine Corps Martial Arts program not only to other branches of the U.S. military, but to other countries as well, giving the program the ability to grow beyond the United States Marine Corps."
Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Warner and Marine Corps Sgt. Edgar Ramirez, both Martial Arts instructors, train alongside Vogt and assisted with Frey's Black belt qualification."
"We have been offering training since a week after we arrived in country," said Warner.
MCMAP draws influences from several disciplines to include: Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, sambo, karate, aikido, taekwondo, kung fu, and kick boxing to name a few. Vogt added that individuals from other countries who are interested in becoming a Martial Arts Instructor can contact the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence located on Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia.
The program began in 2000 trains Marines, as well as U.S. Navy personnel attached to Marine units, in unarmed combat, edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, rifle and bayonet techniques, and more importantly on being an ethical warrior through values based training; which encompasses one third of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
"It also stresses mental development, including the responsible use of force, leadership, and teamwork," said Vogt.
Frey is extremely thankful for the opportunities to expand his skillset while deployed in Afghanistan and enjoys the comradery gained while training with Marines.
"The instructors are true professionals, as well as the other Marines also training for their belts. I'm grateful that they have given me this opportunity," said Frey.