MCB CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
U.S. Marines and Sailors with 2d Reconnaissance Battalion (2d Recon), 2d Marine Division (2d MARDIV) concluded a bilateral training exercise – Exercise Caribbean Urban Warrior – with U.S. Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) and Netherlands Marines from the 32nd Raiding Squadron (32nd RSQN) on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune from March 3-28, 2021.
The Dutch 32nd RSQN is stationed at the Netherlands Marine Corps base in Savaneta, Aruba (which is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), and their mission involves a wide variety of tasks including, but are not limited to: countering illicit-drug trafficking, supporting local authorities, and providing humanitarian assistance when needed. Exercise Caribbean Urban Warrior is but one exercise in a series of bilateral exercises between 2d Recon and the Dutch 32nd RSQN that allows the Dutch Marines to gain robust experience in Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) while also building familiarity and interoperability with 2d Recon Marines.
“This bilateral exercise shows what we preach: train and fight shoulder to shoulder,” said Capt. Mark Brouwer, a Netherlands Marine currently serving as an exchange officer with 2d Recon. “You need to train with allies in order to better operate alongside each other.”
The U.S. and Dutch Marines conducted live-fire sniper training, close-air support training, close-quarter marksmanship, urban patrols, key-leader engagements, high-altitude low-opening parachute jumps, and a final scenario-based urban exercise. The compilation of these events made the U.S. and Dutch Marines more lethal, capable, and able to support a wide variety of operations anywhere in the world.
“This all simulates the environments our unit has to work in,” said Netherlands Marine Corps Cpl. Marvin Sahetapy, a deputy section commander with the 32nd RSQN, “from the foot patrols to dominating the information environment, and urban warfare operations. Enablers, like close-air support are not available for us in Aruba,” he said.
U.S. Marines with the 26th MEU also played a key role during the course of this exercise. The 26th MEU’s command and staff refined their skillsets while commanding and controlling a multi-national force in a realistic training environment, ultimately making them a more ready and capable staff that can support global employment in a moment’s notice.
“Exercise Caribbean Urban Warrior 2021 provided the 26th MEU with a great opportunity to hone our craft by enhancing our capabilities equivalent with distributed Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force operations, while strengthening our partnership with the Netherlands Marines and 2d Reconnaissance Battalion,” said Col. Dennis W. Sampson, commander of the 26th MEU. “This exercise was a critical component of our internal training continuum and showcased the value and utility of Marine Air-Ground Task Force combined-arms capabilities and urban reconnaissance training in Camp Lejeune.”
In addition to the training, Dutch Marine Brig. Gen. Frank Boots and Netherlands Royal Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Hans Hijman, commander and command master chief of Commander Netherlands Forces in the Caribbean, respectively, visited the troops who participated in the exercise and met with key leaders from the entirety of the II MEF enterprise to talk about current and future bilateral training opportunities.
The strong relationship between 2d Recon and the 32nd RSQN will continue to build lethality and interoperability between the two forces into the foreseeable future. 2d Recon and the 32nd Raiding Squadron will work together again soon when 2d Recon travels to Aruba for another iteration of Exercise Caribbean Coastal Warrior, where they will work on open-water dive training and small-boat tactics.
“Both exercises serve as a way to exchange knowledge, TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures), and increase cooperation between both units,” said Brouwer. “We train shoulder-to-shoulder with several assets under the II Marine Expeditionary Force, bringing us closer and stronger every iteration.”