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A British soldier addresses U.S. Marines and other soldiers during Exercise Phoenix Odyssey II in Edinburgh, U.K., Oct. 27, 2015. The two-week exercise is designed to enhance joint intelligence operations between the two nations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Lucas Hopkins/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Lucas Hopkins

U.S. Marines, British Army collaborating on military intelligence

2 Nov 2015 | Cpl. Lucas Hopkins II Marine Expeditionary Force

U.S. Marines and British soldiers are undergoing an exercise designed to increase intelligence operational proficiency between the two countries Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, 2015.

The first iteration of Exercise Phoenix Odyssey took place at Camp Lejeune, N.C. last year, which helped intelligence Marines and British soldiers establish a partnership. This year, the countries came together again to test their capabilities in a joint setting.

“During this exercise, we’re running an intelligence scenario to reflect a present-day operating environment and what we may face in an uncertain environment,” said Marine 1st Lt. Benton Pittman, an air intelligence officer with 2nd Intelligence Battalion.

Two teams work in 12-hour rotating shifts, tasked with collecting information based on a hypothetical situation in a fictional country.  While the exercise itself is only notional, the chances of British and U.S. forces working together in a genuine scenario are possible. 

“Having a crisis contingency arise and the requirement for a quick response to an area where we have not had a deliberate focus on is very realistic,” said Pittman.

Some service members are participating in their first joint exercise, while others have worked with other nations before during similar training. Either way, the forces are learning how each side collects and distributes intelligence information in order to work together more effectively in the future.

“I believe this exercise is really bringing us together,” said Marine Pfc. Kaitlin Williams, an intelligence specialist with the unit. “It’s helping us understand how we each conduct our intelligence operations, that way whenever we go forward, we can collaborate better to complete the mission.”

“I’ve worked with the US armed forces before, and I’ve found [the Marines] are very focused. I think at the moment we’re working well together,” said British Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Starmer, an all-sources cell senior analyst in the exercise.

As partnerships between the U.S. Marines and British continue to grow, the forces are looking ahead to further integration.

“Moving forward as a battalion, we hope to really capture the positives of working together,” said Pittman. “Taking the best of those worlds, we’re able to provide timely and relevant intelligence that is extremely accurate.”


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