By Sgt. Douglas Simons, III Marine Expeditionary Force
BETIO ISLAND, TARAWA ATOLL, KIRIBATI -- Marines and Sailors with Task Force Koa Moana 17 trained with the Kiribati National Police Maritime Unit, June 13-19, 2017, on Betio Island.
The training included multiple practical application exercises, such as baton techniques and riot control techniques, with military policemen and hand-to-hand combat training with infantrymen in order to share ideas on how to be a more capable, well-rounded police force.
“We come from two different backgrounds and cultures,” said Cpl. Austin Funk, a military policeman with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, currently deployed to Koa Moana 17. “We naturally do things differently, but this training allows us to collaborate and come up with new ideas together.”
U.S. service members have visited Kiribati before, but this is the first time in a training capacity, according to Maj. Brian Hollier, officer-in-charge of Task Force Koa Moana 17.
“They asked us to train with their police force the last time Marines were here,” said Hollier. “We tailored this year’s task force in order to make it happen.”
This evolution of Koa Moana is the first time many Kiribati residents have met Americans, and in some ways, breaks the ice for a new friendship, according to Gunnery Sgt. Michael Weaver, staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge of Task Force Koa Moana 17.
“This training helps establish a relationship between U.S. service members and Kiribati residents,” said Weaver. “It shows that we see them as partners. Anyone can email documents for training at any time, but it takes a certain level of commitment to come and conduct the training in person.”