CROW VALLEY, Republic of the Philippines -- Completely surrounded in thick vegetation, snipers encase themselves within a wall of camouflage, utilizing their natural surroundings to keep from being compromised.
Marines and Sailors from the scout sniper platoon, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, train alongside Philippine Marines from Special Operations Platoon, 3rd Battalion, while conducting patrolling drills and training in the construction of hide sites here, Oct. 9.
Each force brought a unique skill set to the training exercise, allowing both forces to play the roles of student and teacher.
“They have more experience in the jungle with us being focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, the desert type settings,” said Cpl. Jeremy Russow, a native of Bourbonnais, Ill. and an assistant team leader with the Scout Sniper Platoon, 2/1. “It was good to see what they do and also show them our tactics with what we do in patrolling, making a hide site, and getting eyes on an objective area. That’s what we are focused on today.”
The bilateral force patrolled in tactical columns to an objective more than a kilometer from the camp, where the teams trained in immediate action drills. These drills are designed to increase the Marines’ response time and refine techniques when receiving enemy fire on a patrol.
Following the drills, the force continued the joint patrol until they located an area to construct their hides. The secluded position provided a panoramic view of the valley, allowing for optimal observation of the surroundings.
Once isolated, the Marines pulled and cut the surrounding vegetation, standing it upon the edges of the hide site. Using natural camouflage allows the snipers to observe the enemy without being spotted.
“After we set up the hide site, the passing enemies cannot see us, but unfortunately for enemy, we can see them,” said Pfc. Eduardo Biron, a scout with Special Operations Platoon, 3rd Battalion, Philippine Marine Corps. “With this capability, this gives us more options when facing the enemy down range. When we run out of ways to beat them, we have one more play in the book.”
The Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU are conducting the 29th iteration of the Amphibious Landing Exercise alongside their Philippine Marine counterparts in order to improve the two forces’ interoperability and strengthen their long standing relationship.
“(The Philippine Marines) are really warm, receptive and willing to share ideas,” said Russow. “It has been an all around good experience being able to train with the Philippine Marines.”
The 31st MEU will continue to train alongside the Philippine Marines throughout PHIBLEX, integrating the skills gained here into future operations. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.