OTTERBURN, United Kingdom --
Marines of 2nd Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force, recently completed a pre-deployment exercise that gave training a whole new meaning. Instead of trudging through the sands of 29 Palms, Calif., the Marines of 2nd ANGLICO trained on grassy fields in the mild temperatures of the English countryside.
For two weeks in June, 17 Marines from 2nd ANGLICO trained alongside soldiers from the 7th Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery of the British army at Royal Air Force Base Waddington and in Otterburn, United Kingdom. During the training, they conducted two different training exercises, Mountain Dragon and Pashtun Sabre, during which units practiced unleashing indirect fire on a target.
These exercises are essential to both 2nd ANGLICO Marines and British troops because they are scheduled to work together on the battlefields of Afghanistan in the near future.
“This is important because we’re both involved in a coalition fight in Afghanistan,” said Capt. Richard Nenno, team leader of Supporting Arms Liaison Team A, 2nd ANGLICO. “You can’t just have U.S. Marines only working with U.S. Marines and British only working with British. We’re all in this together.”
The first exercise, Mountain Dragon, was a simulation, while the second exercise, Pashtun Sabre, involved live fire. Both exercises mimicked combat scenarios from Afghanistan and gave fire control teams from 2nd ANGLICO and the British army the opportunity to request, coordinate and control an arrangement of indirect fire and close air support.
“We got helo-dropped into a forward operating base that looked exactly like a FOB would look in Helmand Province, Afghanistan,” said Sgt. Adam Georges, team chief for Fire Control Team 1. “It was complete with Hesco barriers and it even had artillery guns firing rounds at the simulated enemy.”
The exercises provided the Marines and British soldiers an opportunity to become familiar with how each side gets the job done.
“The liaison between forces is necessary because it helps us understand their tactics, techniques and procedures, and they can understand ours,” said Capt. Wendell Farmer, fire support officer of SALT A, 2nd ANGLICO. “It’s better to learn them now by training with each other instead of learning it during combat.”
In order to become more familiar with each other’s routines, Marines from 2nd ANGLICO were allowed to spend time with the British soldiers so they could better understand each other.
“We were able to go out in town together, relax and just talk amongst ourselves,” said Georges, commenting on his team’s opportunity to bridge cultural gaps. “We were able to find out what they mean when they say certain things. That way, when we hear them on the radio, we don’t have to think about what they said, we’re just doing what we should be doing – which is the way it should be.”
Not only did the Marines from 2nd ANGLICO become familiar with British soldiers’ customs and military jargon, but they also got a small taste of their culture.
“During the last exercise, I had two artillery guns firing, and the British major that was in charge of the infantry company asked me and my two radio operators if we had any tea since the operation started,” recalled Georges. “We told him no, and he said we needed to take a break and have a brew.”