Chinese troops from their first overseas base took part in their first live-fire drills in a show of combat readiness. The exercise on Friday in the African country of Djibouti took place at the national training range and involved dozens of troops according to a People’s Liberation Army Navy press release.

Troops arrived at the base – China’s first overseas garrison – less than two months ago and the drill was meant to test the personnel’s capacity to handle a range of weapons and tasks in extreme heat, humidity, and salinity, the report said.

This is the first time our soldiers stationed in Djibouti have left the camp to conduct combat training,” base commander Liang Yang was quoted as saying.

“The live-fire training will help explore a new training model for the [Chinese] overseas garrison.”

Footage aired by state-run CCTV showed PLA marine corps using various weapons – from pistols to automatic rifles, sniper rifles and machine guns – to fire at targets.

Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said the troops had to be on combat alert at all times because of the region’s complex political conditions and Djibouti’s geographic importance.

The Chinese also claimed that a PLA ship docked in Djibouti was probed by combat divers from a Japanese ship docked nearby. One of China’s official newspapers the Procuratorial Daily reported that the Chinese used strong lights and signals to drive away the Japanese divers.

The Chinese also claimed that the live-fire drills were a message to the local militias in the unstable African country “not to harass” the Chinese.