ANCON, Peru - While most Americans were celebrating the nation’s independence with family and fireworks, approximately 600 Marine Corps and Navy reservists from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 24 spent the holiday training and building relationships with South American and Canadian forces.
More than 1,300 Marines and Sailors combined from the U.S. and nine partner nations converged on the Peruvian military base of Ancon this July 4th weekend to participate in two training exercises called Partnership of the Americas 2010 and Southern Exchange. The simultaneous events over the next three weeks, provide a unique opportunity for strengthening ties and improving collaboration and camaraderie between Partner Nation Marine Corps from: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru and also soldiers from Canada.
Spearheading the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Commanding Officer, Col. Gary S. Johnston of the Kansas City-based 24th Marines infantry regiment said, “This deployment enables us [U.S. forces and partner nations] to enhance our military-to-military relationships and also be better prepared to support real-world contingency operations, like humanitarian aid and disaster relief, not only in the vicinity of South America, but any where in the world.”
Upon arriving Peru’s military base, some of the American Marines and awaiting partner nations quickly boarded CH-46 transport helicopters, flying to the USS New Orleans--the ship supporting the amphibious operations of the combined exercises. The group was greeted by U.S. Naval forces, 40 Marines from Mexico and a contingent of almost 60 Amtrackers from the USMC who will operate the amphibious assault vehicles that ferry manpower to shore.
The exercise will focus on interoperability between the USMC and the Marine Corps forces of partner nations exposing them to fundamentals that will enhance partner nation capabilities in the execution of peacekeeping operations and humanitarian aid/disaster relief missions that are common amongst Marines throughout the Americas: marksmanship, patrolling, convoy operations, water survival, amphibious training, checkpoint operations, civil affairs, human rights training and military operations in urban terrain.
The combined exercises, Partnership of the Americas 2010 and Southern Exchange 2010, will run from July 2-24 in Salinas and Ancon, Peru.