News: MRF-D Marines and Australian soldiers train for two weeks at Mount Bundey
Story by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
MOUNT BUNDEY TRAINING AREA, Northern Territory, Australia – Marines with Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, and Australian soldiers with Bravo Company, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, relied on the support of each other to complete various training exercises, here, from June 3 – 14.
The Marines and their Australian counterparts traveled to every training exercise by foot, covering approximately 65 kilometers of land, while carrying approximately 90 pounds of gear on their backs.
“We spent three days of initial integration with the soldiers here in Bravo Company learning the way they do business,” said 1st Lt. Mike Kopa, platoon commander, Wpns Plt., Lima Co., 3rd Bn., 3rd Marine Regiment, MRF-D. “After the first three days, we began exercises which started in kind of a crawl, walk, run fashion. As we moved each day, we would face some sort of enemy resistance, starting with a two-to-three man enemy element the first couple of nights. We then progressed all the way up to a 25-man enemy element.”
Throughout their time at the training area, both units combined their abilities in completing urban operation exercises. However, the physical aspects of the missions were not the hardest part for the Marines and Australian soldiers.
“The most difficult part is keeping the Marines’ mental focus to stay in it the whole way through and making them understand that it’s a full exercise and we’re staying tactical the whole time,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Hubbert, platoon sergeant, Wpns. Plt., Lima Co., 3rd Bn., 3rd Marine Regiment, MRF-D. “They have to keep their heads in the fight at all times.”
Even though both forces had minimal practice working together, teamwork and cohesion came naturally.
“We’re effectively co-located and taking all the opportunities that we can to maximize training with each other by trying different techniques, tactics, procedures,” said Lt. Col. Richard Barrett, commanding officer, 5RAR. “It also helps maximize those culture exchanges.”
Most of the service members found those exchanges began by trying each other’s rations.
“You hear guys shouting things like ‘chocolate dairy shake?’” said Kopa. “Every time they saw something in the meals for the first time, they would shout it out loud.”
However, the Marines and Aussies found they had a lot in common, such as their values.
“There’s a lot of similarities between us,” said Hubbert. “Our senses of humor are the same, the camaraderie, pride and professionalism.”
This is not the last time MRF-D Marines and 5RAR soldiers will find themselves in the field together this rotation. The next large bilateral training evolution is scheduled near the end of the deployment at Bradshaw Field Training Area.