SIERRA DEL RETIN, Spain -- A platoon of U.S. Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa completed a live-fire assault course during a training exercise with 2nd Battalion, Spanish Marine Brigade at a range in Sierra Del Retin, Spain, May 4 - 6.
The training exercise allowed the two forces to share their resources in a combined training environment, where they could support each other and demonstrate their maneuver procedures.
“We shared the same [staging area], and we practically lived together for three days,” said Lt. Pablo Torres, the bilateral training officer. “The purpose of this training was mainly live-fire assaults, so we decided in agreement with [the U.S. Marines] to share the same range and take turns to do our dry runs and live-fire runs, giving us the opportunity to see our differences and similarities.”
The two groups completed a series of day and night maneuvers through the range’s thick vegetation as they built up to their culminating platoon level assaults with machinegun support. All the while, the two groups observed their partners in action.
“It’s good to understand that not everybody does it the way we do, and there are things we can learn from other militaries and vice versa,” said 2nd Lt. Peter Severson, the U.S. Marine platoon commander. “Just watching them on the range, we can pick out things that we do differently, and it bring out [learning] points for us after our training.”
“[Just] the fact that we can use the Spanish training area is huge,” he continued. “That’s one of the only places we can train like this while deployed. If we couldn’t train with the Spanish, we couldn’t complete a lot of our core infantry skill requirements.”
In return for access to the ranges, SPMAGTF-CR-AF provided the Spanish Marines with an opportunity to use the U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 Ospreys. Two of the aircraft delivered the U.S. Marine platoon to the training site, and then boarded their Spanish counterparts for a bilateral aerial assault mission to test their ability to complete combined operations.
Although the units did not integrate on the assault range itself, the shared assets were a demonstration of the two forces’ strong desire to continue their growing and mutually beneficial partnership.
“We don’t need a fully integrated exercise to work as a team,” said Torres “We understand that there’s no need to have a mixed platoon, for example, as that’s not likely to happen in a real operation. In spite of that, we can find alternatives and other ways to obtain benefits from this training, specifically through debriefings and watching each other work.”
As a crisis-response force for U.S. Africa Command, SPMAGTF-CR-AF has participated in numerous training exercises with its Spanish partners and has plans to continue to build upon that mutually-beneficial relationship.
“We find these opportunities to work together very useful, and we see those as something that should be exploited for mutual benefit,” said Capt. Jesus Pablo Bellido Laprada, the operations officer for 2nd Battalion. “This exercise has been one more step to strengthen the operational links and joint training between us. We plan on continuing with this cooperation based on combined training in tactics, techniques and procedures … with our brother U.S. Marines in order to increase interoperability for operations.”