News: Militaries make point to check vehicles during Exercise Tafakula
Story by Lance Cpl. Nathan Knapke
TONGATAPU, KINGDOM OF TONGA — A platoon from Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, the Tongan Defence Service and the French Foreign Legion searched car after car, looking for an “extremist” disguised as a service member during a vehicle checkpoint exercise as part of Exercise Tafakula 2013, here, Sept. 10.
The troops were on high alert hunting for their suspect and used a series of poles in various sizes to create roadblocks and to siphon traffic to ensure a thorough search.
“Our main mission during the VCP was to provide security and have our weapon system oriented down the main avenue of approach for a possible high-valued target,” said Lance Cpl. Jeremy Coulon, machine gunner and squad leader, Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, MRF-D, and native of San Marcos, Texas. “Everyone here today did their part to make sure the mission ran smoothly.”
Once the combined unit learned they were looking for an extremist suspected of dressing like one of them, they began to narrow their search to military vehicles and motorists wearing a military uniform.
After checking numerous vehicles, service members noticed a military truck tailing a person in camouflage toward the checkpoint. Orders were given to aim in on the suspects as they approached.
Troops conducted an inspection on the truck and brought the alleged service member traveling on foot in for questioning. Following their clearance, shots were fired.
“I was really excited when I heard my fire team leader tell me we were going on the offensive,” said Lance Cpl. Carlos Ortiz, rifleman, 1st Plt., Lima Co., 3rd. Bn., 3rd Marines, and a Chicago native. “After checking vehicles for a couple of hours, it’s nice to get the blood flowing during some tactful training.”
Rebels started to attack the checkpoint and fire teams deployed in response. Two fire teams split up to flank both sides of the enemy. Machine gunners set up on top of a hill, providing cover fire to allow the teams to move into position.
Blank rounds were used throughout the entire exercise, and after a 20-minute “firefight,” the extremists were no longer in commission.
With the enemy at bay, all three militaries successfully proved they could locate an enemy threat using a vehicle checkpoint, preventing the harm of innocent people.