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Coin Ops in the Jungle U.S., Indonesian Marines practice counter-insurgency operations

12 Mar 2008 | Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Hlavac

As many U.S. Marines these days know, conducting counter-insurgency operations (COIN) are some of the most difficult operations a Marine can conduct in a combat zone.

 With this in mind, Marines from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, the Battalion Landing Team for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a COIN exercise here March 12, with their Indonesian Marine counterparts. During the exercise, the U.S. Marines utilized their previous COIN training and experiences to help the Indonesian Marines understand how to successfully battle an insurgency.

 The COIN training was part of a bilateral field training exercise between the U.S. and the Republic of Indonesia that will run from March 10-19. The purpose of the bilateral exercise is to increase interoperability, enhance military to military relationships and continue building strong regional partnerships between the two nations.

 The two groups of Marines went through various training courses representing different aspects of COIN operations including; urban patrolling, escalation of force, vehicle and entry control point techniques, and handling prisoners of war. All of the training was based on situations experienced by U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Richard Jahelka, executive officer, F Co.

 “Today we practiced training based on concepts which Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently experiencing,” said the San Diego, Calif., native. “We have a lot of experience with COIN and wanted to share it with the Indonesian Marines with the goal of them further adapting the training to fit their specific needs and situations. They really picked up on the training and learned fast. Their abilities and professionalism really impressed me.”

 The training was a unique and exciting experience for the Indonesian Marines who had limited COIN training and had never worked with U.S. Marines before, according to Indonesian Marine 2nd Lt. Helilintar Laksono, the platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, Dragon Company, 5th Battalion, 1st Brigade.

 “The training today was really great. We gained a lot of knowledge and working with the U.S. Marines was awesome,” said Laksono. “For us learning how to search detainees was the most interesting and useful. The other Marines and I love getting out and learning new things and the knowledge we learn here will help keep us safe in the future. I definitely look forward to future training with the U.S. Marines.”

 For Staff Sgt. Isaul Montez, platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, F. Co., BLT 2/4, and the lead instructor for the urban patrolling and counter improvised explosive device classes, getting through the language barrier was not altogether difficult.

 “The demonstration portion of the classes is key,” said Montez. “We found the best way to get past the language barrier is to show them the tactics and techniques and keep the lecture periods short.”

 In addition to the COIN training, Indonesian and U.S. Marines practiced Pencak Silat (pronounced Pent-Jak See-Lat), an Indonesian martial art that utilizes hand and arm locks and counter strikes. The cultural aspect of the martial arts class seemed to leave a lasting effect on some Marines from BLT 2/4.

 “The Pencak Silat training was very informative,” said Lance Cpl. James Cleveland, an infantryman with 2nd Platoon and a Chicago, Ill., native. “It showed me that there are a few martial arts that use similar techniques. I would definitely use what I learned today.”

 For the Marines of the 31st MEU, bilateral training like this demonstrates the United States’ ongoing commitment to the security and stability of these nations and the entire South East Asia region.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit