Reconnaissance Marines hit the beach

11 Apr 2016 | Cpl. John Baker The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines are known for their ability to adapt and overcome in order to quickly and effectively execute any mission. During Balikatan 2016, the U.S. and Philippine Marines proved that not even language barriers can impede their success.

U.S. and Philippine Reconnaissance Marines conducted a nighttime training amphibious raid to capture a high value target April 4 in Ternate, Philippines, as part of Balikatan 2016.

Leading the U.S. Marines of 1st Platoon, Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division was Sgt. Alan Villarreal. 

“This was my first bilateral training with a foreign unit,” said Villarreal. “What we did was provide as much information as we could through reconnaissance and photography so they could conduct their raid.”

As the training scenario developed so too did the understanding of the shared mission between the U.S. and Philippine Marines.

“Despite the language barrier everyone understood what we were trying to do and everything was running really smooth,” said Villarreal, a native of El Cajon, California. 

Observing from the beach was U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Grady Harmon, from Lake Stevens, Washington, a special equipment noncommissioned officer with the unit.

“They waited until they had enough information about the high value target, the surrounding area and the security detail,” said Harmon. “From that information they determined the best way to hit the beach and the best time.”

Harmon admitted he was quite impressed by the execution of the Philippine reconnaissance plan.

“They were off the boat, captured the target, and back out within 15 minutes,” said Harmon. “They were good; in fact they were really good. I was surprised at how fluid and how solid of a force they were when they hit that beach - it was impressive.”

The Philippine Marines were quick, quiet and thorough with their raid. In the end it was a successful training mission and a great learning experience for the Marines from both countries, Harmon added.

Even though they do a lot of things differently, everyone involved was open to learning new tactics and concepts, according to Villarreal.

“They take discipline to a whole new level,” said Villarreal. “They constantly take every little drill serious and every class serious because they understand the importance of it.”

With Balikatan now in full swing, these Marines still have over a week to work together, strengthening the enduring partnership between their respective countries. In its 32nd iteration, Balikatan hones the combined readiness of U.S. and Philippine forces in response to conflict and crises throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.