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    Nations unite for bilateral tank training



    Story by Cpl. D. J. Wu 

    Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms

    TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The tankers of Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, and Squadron B, 1st Armoured Regiment of the Australian Army seem like they would have a one-dimensional relationship. The Australians arrived at the Combat Center almost a month ago for bilateral and integrated tank operations.

    They came to train and become more proficient in their fields. What they didn't know, is what else they would be leaving with. At a distance, the two units’ differences greatly outweigh their similarities.

    They’re from opposite sides of the world, they almost speak different languages and one group has feathers sticking out of their hats. At a glance the only thing they have in common is, the monstrous vehicles they drive and how they blow things up. In the culminating exercise for Gold Eagle 2013, the units formed up for a company-sized tank assault course. They used everything they covered in training for the past month. They learned a lot in their month together, not just about tanks, but each other as well.

    “I think this is a fantastic country,” said Australian Army Sgt. Finlay Steel, troop sergeant, Squadron B, 1st Armoured Regiment. “I’m really fortunate for the opportunity to come over here and train alongside the U.S. Marines.”

    The two units grew close in the course of a month. They traded lingos, patches, ranks and stories from home. They roomed with each other in garrison and slept side by side in the field.

    “I had a blast,” said Staff Sgt. Uriel Lemus, tank leader, Co. B, 1st Tanks. “Just from being on top of the hill and seeing everything come together, from day one when I picked them up from the gate, to when they first got into our tanks, to the end where everyone was moving in sync.”

    They said they had a lot to learn from each other. Although their equipment was mostly the same, the two units had differences in operations and maintenance of their machines. They worked through operational and sometimes linguistic barriers to get their job done together.

    “I’m going to take back from being here and working with the Marines, is just the attitude toward remaining focused and professional above all cost.” Steel said. “We’ll take in the American culture as well. I think the guys have certainly integrated well with the Marines in a social setting. We haven’t just locked ourselves in our rooms and kept to ourselves. We talk to the guys and train with the guys.”

    A month of integrated, bilateral training not only brought two countries in the tank community together, but they came together as people too. They’ll retain the stories of the time they came to America to blow things up and the Marines remember what is was like trying to understand the Australian accents and so much more. They mixed their professional and personal culture to form a bond that transcends the distance between Darwin, Australia, and Twentynine Palms, Calif. They keep those bonds and keep them going when 1st Tanks heads to Australia later this year for more bilateral tank training.

    “It’s good that they got to see how we run stuff, that way when we send a company, it gives them better training,” Lemus said. “I wish I was going to Australia.”



    Date Taken: 07.12.2013
    Date Posted: 07.12.2013 16:45
    Story ID: 110136

    Web Views: 48
    Downloads: 0