BUJANOVAC, Serbia -- Following two weeks of extensive training in peacekeeping operations and non-lethal weapons, seven countries including Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and the United States, joined together during exercise Platinum Wolf 2016 for their final field exercise on Peacekeeping Operations Training Center South Base, Bujanovac, Serbia, May 19-20, 2016. Their culminating training showed their mastery of all the skillsets taught by the participating partner nations.
Reserve Marines with Company D, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve, seamlessly integrated and worked hand-in-hand with all of the participating nations.
“It is interesting engaging with partner nations. I was coordinating training between a Macedonian officer and Slovenian officer at the same time,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Stinson, platoon commander of Co. D., 4th LE Bn., FHG, MARFORRES. “Having that experience is just fun working with people from an entirely different culture and background.”
With seven nations participating, the soldiers and Marines overcame unique challenges to include multiple language barriers.
“First of all we have to manage to learn to coordinate in the same language,” said Staff Sgt. Ivan Collautti, military police and crowd control instructor from Slovenia. “It is the most difficult to manage for the nations, it is their biggest obstacle.”
Despite the obstacle the U.S. Marines and European counterparts faced, they quickly found ways to communicate and effectively learn each other’s unique tactics and techniques.
“It’s interesting to know stuff like close protection, improvised explosive devices, the patrols, it’s very useful,” said Cpl. Simeon I. Dimitrov, an infantry solider with the 26400 Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Bulgarian Armed Forces. “It’s good to work with other nations because all of the differences in the cultures and were like brothers in something like this, it is good to help each other.”
The Marines and partner nations stressed the importance of not only mastering their peacekeeping operations, but ensured that interoperability and understanding each other was a top priority, because they could end up anywhere with anyone.
“They never know what environment they could find themselves in, international abroad on a mission,” said Capt. Zzoran Stankoski, company commander of the Macedonian Military Police Battalion. “They will receive different tasks and missions to execute, maybe they will be in a situations where they have to control a riot, passive aggressive resistance where there have to deploy the Taser or how to expose someone to OC, they need to know the basics.”
After learning from each other and utilizing their different capabilities, each of the nations applied what they practiced together during their final field exercise. They conducted field operations including a final assault in a military operation urban terrain training scenario, where the nations worked together to clear a town with simulated insurgents.
After successfully clearing the town, the nations worked together on non-lethal weapons demonstrations showing their strength, teamwork, and a combination of the new skills they have taught each other. They also demonstrated how nations with different pasts and cultures can successfully come together to build important partnerships and ensure stability in their region of operations.
“There is a lot of significance to this training operation, this is a region that has experienced a lot of turmoil and ethnic violence in the past, so seeing these partner nations coming together working on a mutual purpose on promoting peacekeeping operations, that means a lot not just in the operational environment,” said Stinson.
With integration and peacekeeping training as the focus of the exercise, each nation successfully combined their unique capabilities and mastered the ability to conduct peacekeeping operations. Their training and participation in Platinum Wolf 2016 is a critical component of ensuring the United States and six Balkan nations can address any issue together and promote regional stability.