NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria -- Marines and sailors with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Black Sea Rotational Force spent two weeks alongside soldiers from Bulgaria, Albania, United Kingdom and Romania during Platinum Lion 15-3, a multi-national NATO training exercise at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria.
Service members were placed in groups with their international counterparts and rotated through stations covering a multitude of skills, to include: Call for fire, weapons handling, urban patrolling and cordon and search.
During the last week, the culminating event consisted of a three-day live-fire platoon attack exercise that was designed to provide a challenging and realistic training scenario.
“We spent the last two weeks living together and building relationships,” said Capt. Michael R. McNicoll, commanding officer of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. “That to me is mission accomplishment and the main focus of what we came here to do.”
The international pairings lasted throughout the training evolution, which led to partnerships that went beyond the training events that designed to endure indefinitely.
“At the beginning, we started as five different nations,” said Bulgarian Army Capt. Penio Todoranov, company commander with the 61st Mechanized Brigade. “Now we are five nations working together as a team.”
After the final exercise, Platinum Lion 15-3 included a distinguished visitors' day that included the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Bulgaria, Emma Hopkins, the Minister of Defense of Bulgaria, Nikoley Nenchev and the Albanian Ambassador to Bulgaria, Qirjako Kureta. These guests witnessed a Bulgarian live-fire attack and a weapons static display presented by each nation.
The next day, Platinum Lion 15-3 ended with a warrior day, a day-long athletic event between the services to promote friendly competition. After, the Marines and allies had a warrior lunch, solidifying friendships that grew that week.
“This was truly a successful exercise and everyone played an important role,” said McNicoll.