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Trigger time in the jungle BLT 2/4, Philippine Marines conduct combat marksmanship training

22 Feb 2008 | Lance Cpl. Tyler Hlavac

It’s muggy and hot but the two Marines know that despite any uncomfort they must carefully sight in on their target, and fire several well-aimed shots.

 While one Marine is a U.S. Marine and the other a Philippine Marine, both with different training backgrounds, one thing these warriors do have in common is they are both rifleman first, above anything else.

 In an effort to improve their own marksmanship skills and to build a solid relationship with their Philippine counterparts, over 100 U.S. Marines with Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a live-fire exercise with over 40 Philippine Marines from the 30th Marine Company, Marine Battalion Landing Team 10, Feb. 22, as part of Exercise Balikatan 2008.

 The exercise is an annual bilateral event designed to enhance the professional military relationships between the U.S. and the Republic of the Philippines. During the exercise, the two groups of Marines practiced firing from various positions and rehearsed various scenarios they could run into during combat, such as a weapons malfunction or running out of ammunition and having to change magazines in the middle of a firefight.

 Philippine Marine 2nd Lt. Eugene Eclavia, the officer in charge of 30th Marine Company, said the shoot was a great way for the Marines to gauge their own marksmanship skills and abilities.

 “We conduct these live-fire exercises to build confidence and to shoot better,” Eclavia said. “It shows the abilities of the Marines and whether or not they able to still hit the bad guys in a combat situation. The U.S. Marines are definitely teaching us great techniques and tactics.”

 U.S. Marine Capt. Matt Ryan, company commander, F Co., said that while the U.S. Marines taught many skills to the Philippine Marines, they also learned a lot in the process.

 “We came out to practice combat shooting, which gives Marines better accuracy, weapons manipulation and a better combat mindset, which are the most important skills for any Marines, U.S. or Philippine,” said the North Attleboro, Mass. native. “Additionally, the Philippine Marines showed us ways to conduct different raids and how to operate in a jungle environment. We definitely learned a lot from each other.”

 While training alongside their Philippine counterparts, the U.S. Marines also found themselves learning more than just combat skills, said U.S. Marine Cpl. Garrett Cheatum, a squad leader with 3rd Platoon, F Co., BLT 2/4 and a Yuba City, Calif., native.

 “During the shoot, I was able to teach the Philippine Marines shooting stances, speed reloads and how to move while shooting. Working with the Philippine Marines helped me build my own leadership and problem solving skills. The Philippine Marines learn quick and I’d trust them in combat any day. They are definitely good to go in my book.”

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit