PEACE KEEPING OPERATION TRAINING BASE, Kingdom of Cambodia --
More than 150 Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit trained with Cambodian soldiers and sailors in a variety of different military skills, Feb. 27.
The training included classes on hand to hand fighting, crew served weapons, small arms, mine and improvised explosive device detection, combat lifesaving skills, and mortar systems.
“The training is geared towards familiarizing each other with our different techniques,” said Lance Cpl. Marshall C. Kerby, a mortar man with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st MEU. “The language barrier is the biggest challenge we had to overcome. Because most of them do not speak English, we have to communicate mostly through hand gestures everyone understands.”
Kerby went on to say while it was challenging, it was fun to get to interact with the Cambodian forces and share ideas and experiences.
While the Cambodians were learning about the U.S. Marine Corps weapons and tactics, the Marines and Sailors were learning new things too.
“For pretty much all the Marines, this is their first time here,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel B. Linden, a mortar section leader with BLT 2/5. “We are just getting to know each other’s cultures, and this allows us to have a better understanding of what we can each bring to the table in terms of training.”
The training also built upon the Marines confidence in their abilities to teach other forces.
“The more the Marines get a chance to pass their skills onto other service members, Cambodian or U.S., the better and more comfortable they feel about their ability to do it,” said Linden. “They are not just learning the ability to work with foreign militaries, they are learning the basic teaching skills that will allow them to pass their knowledge on to their Marines as well.”
As the day and training came to a close, the Marines of Company G, BLT 2/5, felt they had accomplished their mission and everyone had learned some valuable skills. “Even with the language barrier I think we did really well,” said Kerby. “Everyone seemed to gain something from the experience.”
The 31st MEU visited and conducted bilateral training as part of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Theater Security Cooperation program with the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The program provides a unique and dynamic opportunity for cooperation between the U.S. and Cambodian military, while also promoting relationship-building between militaries and local communities.
The 31st MEU is the nation’s only continually forward-deployed MEU and remains a force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.