News: Newest Marine unit trains with Spanish soldiers
Story by 1st Lt. Joshua Larson
PRINCIPE TRAINING CAMP, Spain – Marines and sailors with the Marine Corps’ newest unit, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, joined forces with the Spanish army for bilateral live-fire training at the Principe Training Camp in Spain, July 29 through Aug. 1, 2013.
The purpose of the training was two-fold—to sustain live-fire proficiency with sniper rifles and machine guns while also building positive, enduring relationships between each nation’s military.
It was a shared experience that, at the onset, focused on weapon’s tactics, but there was also a healthy dose of cultural sharing between the forces. In fact, a bilateral soccer game developed the first evening, even before the next morning’s first rounds went down range.
On the first day of training, Spanish snipers from one of Spain’s long-range reconnaissance companies joined snipers from SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, practicing methods of employing their rifles and discussing each other’s weapon systems throughout the day and nighttime event.
“The Spanish soldiers were some of the most proficient snipers the Marines have ever worked with—I was extremely impressed with them,” said 1st Lt. Trevor Dunlap, a Houston, Texas, native and officer-in-charge of the crisis response Marines involved in the training.
After the next day’s machine gun live-fire event, the Marines joined forces with the Spanish again—this time for a feast of paella, one of Spain’s most identifiable cultural dishes.
Altogether, the four-day, infantry-based training event centered on the ground combat element of SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, but the unit’s aviation combat element played a role also, showcasing the unit’s aerial assault capabilities by flying the Marines into and out of the training ranges via the unit’s organic MV-22 Ospreys.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for these Marines. Training as an air-ground team is what we do—it’s in our DNA. But to do it alongside our Spanish hosts and share experiences makes it that much more beneficial and memorable for all involved,” said Col. Scott F. Benedict, commanding officer, SP-MAGTF Crisis Response.”
SP-MAGTF Crisis Response is temporarily postured in Southwest Europe. The unit is able to respond across a full range of military operations to protect U.S. and partner-nation security interests in the region. They plan to conduct further bilateral training with regional militaries to strengthen partnerships throughout the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.