MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Six amphibious assault vehicles came to a halt in front of the infantry immersion trainer as three more AAVs took the left flank of the training town. Enemy role-players opened fire as warriors wearing two different uniforms, war paint and full battle gear poured out from each vehicle. The field in front of the town erupted with gunfire as the joint force began suppressing the enemy defense.
Marines serving with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and guardsmen serving with 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards, began the military operations in urban terrain training during Exercise Valiant Mark here, Dec. 11.
“Valiant Mark is a bilateral exercise between the United States Marine Corps and the Singapore Guards that happens every year in which we train side by side and exchange tactics,” said Lt. Col. Jason Perry, the commanding officer of 2nd Bn., 5th Marines.
During this portion of Valiant Mark, the Marines and guardsmen take advantage of the realism of the IIT to locate improvised explosive device components and capture role-players acting as enemy forces.
“The IIT is a realistic facility that we used to test our tactics under stress in a combat environment,” said Sgt. Daved Allen, a squad leader serving with Fox Co. “The compound is set up to resemble towns in Afghanistan and it is pretty realistic to the what I experienced in Afghanistan.”
The guardsmen have simulation towns in Singapore that are similar to the IIT, but not as detailed, said Sgt. Eugene Kwok, a section leader serving with 3rd Bn. Singapore Guards.
“They have furniture set up inside the building and documents in different languages making it seem as if we were really in Afghanistan,” said Kwok. “I liked how the actors would talk in different languages and would be unresponsive to us when we tried to speak to them without a translator.”
The trainer is designed to test both the mental and physical capabilities of Marines and guardsmen in preparation for bilateral operations in urban environments, said Allen, a 26-year-old native of Kelso, Wash.
“With the enemy forces firing at you from anywhere inside the compound and the sounds of grenades and IEDs going off around you it is essential that you stay calm and apply what you have learned in training,” said Allen.
The Marines and guardsmen sprinted from building to building kicking doors open and searching for enemy fighters.
“The enemy could have been hiding inside the tunnels or in secret rooms waiting to fire at us, so we had to be very careful and diligent when clearing a room,” said Kwok. “At the same time we were moving very fast, making it a tiring experience.”
The allied forces combined their tactics and experience to clear the town. They moved from house-to-house, fighting street-to-street to accomplish their mission during this portion of the exercise.
Over the course of Exercise Valiant Mark, the Marines and guardsmen have lived side by side, sharing their food, cultures and personalities with one another.
“Valiant Mark has been a wonderful exercise,” said Kwok. “We have a lot in common with our tactics and procedures, but the thing I like the most is that we have become friends with the Marines.”
Valiant Mark is being conducted in conjunction with Steel Knight, an annual exercise designed to train 1st Marine Division Marines for deployment as the ground combat element of a Marine air-ground task force. The focus of the exercise is to ensure that 1st Marine Division is fully prepared to deploy as an expeditionary force across the range of military operations and is capable of responding to any crisis across the world.