VICTORIA, Australia -- Gunfire and grenade blasts can be heard over the serene atmosphere of the humid woodlands at the training area. U.S. Marines and Australian soldiers yelled commands, threw grenades at targets and conducted live-fire training to engage mock enemy targets while maneuvering through dense vegetation.
Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, and soldiers with 5th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, Australian Army, Australian Defence Force, participated in a bilateral training event May 13 to 17 at Kangaroo Flats Training Area, Victoria, Northern Territory, Australia.
“What we’re doing right now is going to a series of ranges that train the Marines and Australians to focus on basic infantry tactics and squad level operations,” said 1st Lt. Timothy Rose, executive officer of Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, MRF-D. “The ranges include a sneaker range, a squad attack range and an assault grenade range.”
The sneaker range is where individuals can practice the skills of being a point man for a formation while testing their target orientation and engagement. The squad attack range allows fire teams to collaborate as a squad and engage targets and seize objectives. Lastly, the assault grenade range lets individuals work on the employment of hand grenades and grenade launchers in combat-simulated situations.
“Being out here is much different than being back home,” said Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Ward, an infantry unit leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, MRF-D. “In (Camp Pendleton) you have all kinds of rolling hills and this lack of foliage that allows you to see other Marines for a thousand meters in every direction. Out here (it is) condense with thick vegetation and large amounts of undergrowth that creates a new dynamic that the Marines have to train through.”
The training area enables the Marines to become more proficient in this environment and lets them keep up their legacy of being able to fight in every clime and place, said Ward.
“This training benefits the Marine Corps because it brings us one step closer to accomplishing our mission,” said Rose. “Our mission is to build individual relationships with the Australians, strengthen our bonds between the two countries and to learn from each other like the ‘iron sharpens iron’ philosophy.”
Being able to work together, peer to peer, allowed the Marines and Australians to be on the same level and aid each other in becoming more efficient.
The rotational deployment of U.S. Marines affords an unprecedented combined training opportunity with their Australian allies and improves interoperability between the two forces.
The Marines are looking forward to working with the Australian soldiers in the near future for Exercise Predator Walk, said Ward. They’ll be working with 5RAR in an exercise that is close to the ones we do for the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation said Ward.