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    Balikatan 18 | Bridging the gap



    Story by Lance Cpl. Isabella Ortega 

    III Marine Expeditionary Force   

    COLONEL ERNESTO RAVINA AIR BASE, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and U.S. Marine combat engineers trained together May 9 to May 18, 2018 during a subject matter expert exchange focused on building single-story and double-story Medium Girder Bridges (MGB) during exercise Balikatan 2018.

    The engineers worked together to build and disassemble MGBs in a safe and quick manner while placed in a notional combat setting.

    “Practicing over and over again in this kind of environment, where it’s hot and humid, absolutely helps our combat readiness in the sense of being able to build in any clime or place,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Seth A. Moore, a combat engineer with 1st Platoon, Bridge Company, 9th Engineering Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group.

    The training included 14 Philippine Navy Seabees, 31 Philippine Army combat engineers, 17 U.S. Marine combat engineers with 9th ESB, and four U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 3rd MLG.

    Moore said the Marines worked with the Philippine soldiers and sailors to stage each item of the MGB before it was put together in order to build the bridge and cross it quickly.

    The AFP and U.S. Marines worked side-by-side to lift each part of the bridge, some pieces weighing up to 600 pounds, and fit them together like a puzzle. The single-story bridge required a minimum of nine people to finish it, while the double-story bridge required a minimum of 17 people.

    Moore said, “This is very labor intensive work because everything here is hand carried. It’s demanding on your body.”

    Moore said he and the Marines learned a lot from the AFP, including how they can improvise in tough situations and use resources around them to fix problems they may face in combat.

    “The Marines are all friendly,” Philippine Army Staff Sgt. Virdi Villanuena with 1st Platoon, 3rd Engineer Company said. “I would like more training with them to become an expert in bridging.”

    Villanuena said he hopes this is only the beginning of training and learning more from each other as combat engineers.

    “I can always appreciate working with a foreign force, but besides the bridging aspect, being able to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies always creates a stronger relationship,” Moore said. “Marines can walk away with not only co-workers, but friends.”



    Date Taken: 05.18.2018
    Date Posted: 05.28.2018 21:36
    Story ID: 278218
    Hometown: ANCHORAGE, AK, US

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