News: Marines exchange infantry skills with Canadian forces
MEAFORD, Ontario - For the first time since 2001, a New York state-based Marine Corps Reserve infantry company trained with The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, Canadian forces here, April 20-22, during a small-scale, bilateral, 48-hour exercise.
Following the 9/11 attacks, heightened security at the U.S. and Canadian border made border-crossing procedures more tedious and difficult and bilateral training with Canadian forces was put on hold. The past decade’s operational tempo and deployments to Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, also contributed to taking training with Canadians out of the equation.
Training with border nations like Canada is an integral part of Marine Forces North's responsibility to conduct homeland-defense operations. Reserve units are the ideal forces to conduct this bilateral training due to the unit's close proximity to the Canadian border.
At Company I, 3/25’s Reserve center in Buffalo only a river serves as the border between the United States and Canadian land. About 200 miles north of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment’s Reserve center in Buffalo is a remote training facility in Ontario, off the coast of Lake Huron, operated by the Canadian Forces. During a weekend drill, Company I, 3/25, paid a visit to their neighbors to the north to train at the Meaford Land Force Area Central Training Center to exchange infantry skills.
“This training was more than everything we expected with these guys,” said Maj. William Marlowe, Inspector-Instructor, Company I, 3/25, regarding his excitement for the success of the bilateral training with the Canadian Reserve unit. “We really want to build on this and make it something we can do two, three times a year, at a minimum.”
During the exercise, the Marines and Canadian soldiers rotated between various stations, led by alternating Canadian and American instructors. They were also divided into mixed groups, squads of Marines and Canadian soldiers so they could learn from each other face-to-face.
“There are a lot of similarities between us and the Canadian Forces,” said Marlowe.” When we have so many similarities on how we conduct business, we can use that to our advantage. It’s good to foster that relationship and build trust and confidence between our units.”
Breaching, reacting to improvised explosive devices on patrol, foreign weapons familiarity and combat lifesaving were just a few of the skills the Marines and soldiers practiced with one another.
“Over the next 36 hours, you guys will have the opportunity to see how we do things, “said Lt. Col. D.R. Stepaniuk, commanding officer, RHLI, as he addressed the Marines and Canadian soldiers in a mass formation, before the training kicked-off. “Maybe some of our tactics and strategies will be the same, while some of them may be different, but at the end of the day we will all learn something from each other. That’s why it’s great for all of us to come together.”
As the Marines and soldiers rotated between stations, interaction between the Marines and Canadian Soldiers remained constant - whether it was exchanging infantry strategies and tactics, or war stories.
Company I returned from a seven-month Afghanistan deployment in spring 2011, and several of the Canadian Reservists had also served in Afghanistan.
Cpl. Ryan Vine, a Canadian forces weapons system instructor and rifleman by trade with the RHLI, taught the Marines about the weapons Canadian Forces use. The four-year veteran used his time not only to instruct the Marines, but interact with them on a personal level.
“They’re an energetic bunch,” said Vine, describing the Marines. “They were very excited to learn about our weapons systems. I was also very excited to work with the Marines because I have never worked with them before.”
Although the training only lasted about 48 hours, both the RHLI and Company I are looking forward to maintaining the relationship by having larger scale exercises with the Canadian forces to further develop both nations’ interoperability.
“Hopefully they will go back to their subordinates, peers, or higher headquarters and say good things, like we are going to do to them, so our relationship will possibly crescendo; grow bigger,” said Marlowe.
Stepaniuk also shared Marlowe’s sentiment.
“What we know as Canadians is that when we go to battle, the people we want to work with are the Americans, British and Australians,” said Stepaniuk. “Your training standards and excellence are very high, so we can learn from you, the U.S. Marines.”
Date Posted:05.03.2012 11:45
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