News: Combined Philippine, U.S. Marine squads battle for bragging rights
Story by Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano
SAN ANTONIO ESTE, Philippines - In the scorching, hot morning hours of Oct. 4 Philippine and U.S. Marines began a squad field competition at the Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui, San Antonio, Zambales, Republic of the Philippines during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2014.
Bilateral Philippine-U.S. Marine Corps training sustains and reinforces the foundation and framework for a bilateral force to respond rapidly and effectively to regional humanitarian crises.
The Philippine Marines are with various units within the Philippine Marine Corps, and the U.S. Marines are with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is currently assigned to 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Working with U.S. Marines is a great opportunity to exchange knowledge, techniques, procedures and tactics, according to Philippine Marine 2nd Lt. Johnrou Cacho, a platoon commander with Marine Battalion Landing Team 12.
“Marines should always be training,” said Cacho. “Combat often presents uncontrollable situations, and we must be prepared to react and fight wherever, however.”
The competition included a variety of events, such as the assembly of two M240B medium machine guns, four M16A1 service rifles, an 800-meter run, a live-fire challenge and a martial arts competition, according to U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Dilan Swift, a platoon commander with 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines.
The squads were evenly numbered and composed of both forces.
“It is clear that this bilateral training is about relationships,” said Swift. “It begins here, where they are getting to know one another, sharing stories, and sharing food.”
The competition brought out the warrior mentality during the martial arts portion.
“Regardless who the opponent was, the mission was to go out and have a clean ground grappling session,” said Cpl. Michael P. Flanagan, an antitank missileman with 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines. “This competition allowed us to demonstrate the professional-athlete warriors that we are.”
Besides being physically challenging, the competition allowed service members to work on maintaining a combat mindset, as stress was incorporated in order to simulate combat conditions.
“Moving with speed and intensity, plus a Marine’s competitive nature, heightened the stress factor, just like in a combat situation,” said Flanagan.
During the firing sessions, the Marines had to compose themselves and draw on their basic shooting techniques to successfully complete the tasks.
“Trigger and breathing control are crucial techniques to being an effective rifleman,” said Flanagan. “Not only are the fundamentals important, but being able to manage stress will make us a more effective ground combat element.”
One shot, one kill is the mentality all these Marines have, according to Cacho.
“I am grateful to have had this opportunity with our U.S. Marines and look forward to working alongside them again,” said Cacho.
Philippine and U.S. Marines train side-by-side during PHIBLEX 14 to ensure they are capable of working together effectively to conduct humanitarian assistance and regional security missions.
Not only did the competition test the Marines’ martial arts skills, weapons knowledge and marksmanship, but it also demonstrated the tight bond between the Marines, according to Swift. It was like the Philippine and U.S. Marines have been training together forever.