NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria -- U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Black Sea Rotational Force and members of the armed forces of Bulgaria, Romania, United Kingdom and Albania completed the culminating event for Platinum Lion 15-3.
The final evolution consisted of cordon and search operations, intelligence gathering and live-fire and maneuver, all designed to strengthen the partnership between NATO nations and share knowledge to help improve military skill sets.
“Platinum Lion 15-3 was designed to promote regional cooperation, foster interoperability between our nations in order to combat security threats,” said Capt. Michael R. McNicoll, commanding officer of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines from BSRF. “We have done this through realistic training where we have shared our ideas, thoughts, techniques, tactics and procedures.”
Prior to the final exercise, the training was divided between classroom instruction and real-time practical application.
Each force was given the opportunity to take part in the same training and work side by side with their NATO allies.
McNicoll was satisfied with the outcome of the training, not only for the Marines but all the NATO nations involved in the exercise and the final event.
“I believe we have learned a lot from each other,” McNicoll explained. “I am excited about the progress we have made.”
Although there were minor differences in the tactical ways the nations did things, the ability to have a free flow of ideas and information strengthened the bond between them.
United Kingdom Royal Marine Commando Lt. Thomas Barry greatly valued the experience of working with the other nations, and especially enjoyed comparing and contrasting tactics with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Seeing how [the U.S. Marines] operate their fire support systems was interesting,” said Barry, a platoon commander with 40 Commando, Royal Marines. “Seeing the different weapons systems, rates of fire and ways to implement them was great to work through.”
During one live-fire attack, there were three nations all providing support at once. The Romanian Air Force aircraft provided close air support, the United Kingdom Royal Marines performed the actual assault and U.S. Marines provided support by fire with medium machine guns.
This type of joint cooperation is what makes Platinum Lion stand out as a premier NATO exercise.
Bulgarian Army Col. Iavor Mateev, head of the Joint Military Facilities Department at the Bulgarian Defense Ministry, is a vocal advocate of the value of Platinum Lion.
“Platinum Lion [has become] one of the greatest examples in Europe for the real implementation of connected forces and NATO smart defense initiatives,” said Mateev.
Many of the nations looked forward to future Platinum Lions and a larger footprint. Albania participated in their first Platinum Lion which served as a notable highlight of the exercise.
“The U.S. Marine Corps led this one,” said Barry. “I look forward for the U.K. to step up their role in the next one.”
Although the last rounds were fired, the value of working so closely with allies was designed to make a permanent imprint on the people involved to remind them of each other’s should-to-shoulder commitment.