EVANGOLA STATE PARK, N.Y. --
Along the salty shore of Lake Erie, the tide washed the sands clean of boot prints left by Company C, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, and members of the Canadian Army Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, Wentworth Regiment, as they conducted coordinated amphibious landings with the help of the full time naval support staff in Buffalo, New York, with the U.S. Navy Mid-Atlantic Reserve Component Command.
Exercise Lake Effect brought members of the Marine Corps, Canadian Army and U.S. Navy together to conduct amphibious landing, patrolling and patrol base operations.
“We have been looking for opportunities to train with sister services in Canada, and in the past we did winter training alongside the Canadian Army in Canada,” said Capt. James Bagg, commanding officer of Co. C. “In an effort to reciprocate, we looked for an opportunity to get them down here and train with us. So naturally, we looked to train in patrolling and something in more of an amphibious nature. Given the fact that our drill center is on Lake Erie, we were able to utilize the U.S. Navy and set up a training exercise where we could conduct an amphibious landing and a joint exercise where we could combine Canadian forces with Marines and exercise the interoperability of both the Navy and Canadians with the Marines.”
Marines are amphibious and known for being the best at ship-to-shore combat with a resume that includes Iwo Jima, Tinian, Guam and Saipan.
“As Marines we like to stick to our roots as soldiers of the sea, but it is something we don’t get to train for a lot,” said Bagg. “Luckily, we have the Navy here and if we have the capabilities to do it then we are going to do it. Adding an amphibious aspect to our training is something this company has not had the opportunity to do, at least not in the last decade. Being able to expose our Marines to what I believe really defines us as a Marine Corps, being amphibious, it is important. Giving them the opportunity to see how amphibious landings are actually conducted, then to get the chance to practice is really worthwhile for the Marines, and our Canadian counterparts.”
During the training, the members of the Canadian detachment attached to each platoon in the company, so that everyone could build closer bonds and learn how each service does business.
“I was a squad leader, which is the equivalent of a Canadian section leader, which is what I do back home,” said Canadian Army Master Cpl. Ryan Vine, RHLI, Wentworth Regiment. “The Marine Corps team leaders helped me out quite a bit because some of the doctrine is quite different in the way we do things, I had a group of 10 guys and we moved within our patrol area to take out the enemy forces while integrated with the Marines.”
The exercise was his third time training alongside Marines, each time learning something new, according to Vine.
“While we have a lot of similarities in tactics, our kits and equipment are different,” said Vine. “We looked at the pros and cons of what each other brought out to the field. We had stuff the Marines were pretty surprised by. The Marines packed really light so they could move quickly and at high speeds while we brought more equipment, so we were surprised by how quickly they could get up and go.”
Exercise Lake Effect added to the units’ overall readiness by being unscripted. Anything could happen for the Marines and Canadians who were patrolling. Occasionally the platoons would run into each other on patrol. When this happened, they became simulated enemies as small combat and small unit tactics were deployed for a stronger since of realism.
“Each platoon set up their own patrol bases in different areas, from there we conducted combat patrols, seeking out the other platoons and engaging them in simulated non-scripted combat,” said Sgt. Keith Ramos, a rifleman with the company. “It was pretty much every platoon for themselves. We conducted a variety of maneuvers such as combat, security and reconnaissance patrols, and hasty ambushes when possible.”
While the Marines and Canadians patrolled, the rain poured down adding to the difficulty of the exercise for each service and a certain uncontrollable element of realism which could occur in a real-life combat operation.
“I think it’s important that even with the awful weather, the Marines really recognized the value of what we were doing out there,” said Bagg. “It’s not easy to go on patrol in the middle of the night, soaking wet, tired and freezing. But understanding that for the limited time we are out there and that these could potentially be the sort of circumstances they face in a combat situation, makes them more receptive to the training, and that is what we are looking for and that is what led to the success of this exercise.”
The long standing relationship between the company and the Canadian detachment has continued to improve. After the exercise, the Canadians have planned to invite the Marines to their training grounds again to continue building on that relationship and ensuring that should the need ever arise, the two services would be able to interact seamlessly as one team in a hostile environment.