TOWNSVILLE FIELD TRAINING AREA, QUEENSLAND, Australia -- At midday on the culmination of Exercise Southern Jackaroo, various amounts of gunfire could be heard throughout the training area until the battle was done and it was time to prepare for a movement. The battle group consisting of U.S. Marines and Australian soldiers, grabbed their packs, slung their rifles and took their first steps toward their objective as daylight receded over the horizon.
Marines with Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, and soldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, Australian Army, Australian Defence Force, finished SJ15 with a brigade conditioning hike June 14 at Townsville Field Training Area, Queensland, Australia.
“For the past few days we’ve been in the field cross-training with the Australian Army getting to know some of their tactics, techniques and procedures for continuous operations,” said Staff Sgt. Ericpeter Giron, weapons platoon sergeant with Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, MRF-D. “We were able to participate in a brigade-level assault in which we were attached to [A Company, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment] for the main effort.”
After completing the assault, the Marines with Co. C and soldiers with 3RAR went into a preparation for combat period for the culminating event of the exercise: a 25km hike through the training area.
“Hiking has always been a part of infantry training,” said 2nd Lt. John Vrolyk, weapons platoon commander with Co. C. “Infantrymen almost always get to the fight by walking.”
Developing the skills, physical endurance and the mental fortitude to fight through the exhaustion and pain that is brought on from a strenuous movement is the true training objective of a conditioning hike.
“As light infantrymen, our job is to be able to close with and destroy the enemy regardless of how far they may be from us,” exclaimed Vrolyk. “Being light infantry means that we have to be able to do our job with what we can carry on our person. As much as we like to say that we are ‘light’ infantry, there’s nothing ‘light’ about light infantry.”
Average infantrymen typically could be expected to carry a fighting load of at least 60lbs and up to 150lbs on their backs during most combat operations, said Vrolyk. In order to stay effective, Marines have to train how they fight.
“It’s more than just getting from point A to point B and collapsing, it’s about going from point A to point B and being prepared to still fight and win against an organized enemy,” stated Vrolyk.
The exercise and culminating hike were a combined training opportunities for the Marines to complete with their Australian allies that helped to improve interoperability between the two forces.
“This training works to further deepen the roots of our partnership with the Australians,” said Giron. “In the past we’ve worked together and this just helps us to strengthen that bond we’ve made as brothers in arms.”
The Marines are preparing to move back to Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, where they will immediately re-deploy out to another field training area for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, according to Vrolyk.
This engagement reflects cooperation to promote global and regional peace and prosperity. The U.S. Marine Corps and the Australian Defense Forces are committed to continuing their tradition of more than 100 years of global partnership and security cooperation between Australia and the United States of America.