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Philippine-U.S. Marines integrate in combat readiness training

22 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Ryan Wicks

The subtropical climate of the Northern Luzon region has long been a favorite location for both Philippine and U.S. forces in conducting large scale bilateral training exercises.

With the annual Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercises being conducted from Oct. 15-27 here, the opportunities for Marines with Company K, Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), to integrate with Philippine Marines and participate in bilateral live-fire training was vast.

Both Philippine and U.S. Marines met, worked and bonded with each other for several days in order to build the camaraderie found among Marines the world over while becoming more proficient with squad level combat movements.

“The purpose of this training was to train our Marines and be acquainted with using live ammunition during combat movement,” said Philippine Marine Sgt. Edilberto Amdongano.

The exercise was part of a three day training evolution that began Oct. 22, leading up to platoon-sized maneuvers.  Philippine and U.S. Marines loaded onto three seven-ton vehicles at 8 a.m. to begin the day’s training.

After a dusty 15 minute ride across dried river beds through various training ranges, the Marines debarked the vehicles and prepared for the exercise by setting up tents for shade.  Afterwards, each service member checked their gear prior to commencing the exercise.

Once ready, the Philippine and U.S. Marines gathered for a range safety brief, to covering all precautionary and safety measures.

 As the training began, each squad of combined forces went through a dry-run of their maneuvers. Every fire team in each squad was made up of two Philippine and U.S. Marines.

At about 10 a.m., the assault kicked off in the suffocating valley heat. The first squad awaited the signal to strike. The signal came at random from two squad automatic weapons shooting suppressive fire down range at simulated enemy targets. Once the Marines heard the gunfire they rushed forward, got on line and pushed through the combat zone leapfrogging in two man teams.

Each squad gathered around their leaders after each assault to discus what they did right or wrong. After identifying certain problems, the group worked together to find solutions.

For the Philippine Marines, the training was beneficial because they weren’t used to practicing that type of training.

“This type of combat marksmanship is new to us because we usually fight in areas with more cover,” Amdongano said. “So we are not used to moving and firing in squad rushes.”

Around 1 p.m., the Marines finished the exercise and conducted a police call of brass, trash and live ammunition.

Training of this type shows everyone that Marines are not here just to get training for themselves but also to share their knowledge and expertise with other forces, according to Sgt. Juan Gutierrez, a squad leader with BLT 3/1.

“We are very eager to work with our counterparts,” Amdongano said. “So far I haven’t seen any negative effects from the training. I am happy with that and am looking forward to more training. Hopefully we can learn and integrate more often.”

In a case that U.S. and Philippine Marines fought side by side in combat, the training may prove to be an essential building block, according to Gutierrez.

“This type would of training would be extremely important if we found ourselves fighting side by side,” Gutierrez said. “It makes for a bigger, more intimidating force.”

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit