Philippine, US Marines successfully complete culminating events shoulder-to-shoulder
CROW VALLEY, Philippines -- Philippine Marines, working alongside the ground and logistics combat elements of U.S. Marine Forces Balikatan, held their culminating events May 12, 2014.
As the sun rose on the ranges, the Marines of 11th Marine Battalion, Philippine Marine Corp and 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force prepared for the GCE’s culminating event.
U.S. Marines fired mortars at the objective, giving machine gunners the opportunity to set up and provide suppressing fire as infantrymen closed in on their targets. Once near, AT-4’s were brought out to provide additional support.
The Philippine Marines conducted platoon-sized attacks as well, receiving support from U.S. mortars and snipers initially as well as suppressing fire from machine guns as they assaulted their objective.
The platoon attacks were intended to improve the interoperability between the Philippine and U.S. Marines, according to Philippine Marine Maj. Prisco Tabo, the operations officer of 11th Marine Battalion. It was also meant to check the readiness of his unit, not only in times of war, but in times of disaster so that the Marines can be prepared for any contingency they are faced with.
Balikatan is an annual training exercise that strengthens the interoperability between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. military in their commitment to regional security and stability, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“It’s a great opportunity working with (U.S. Marines),” said Tabo, who has participated in previous Balikatans. “I am proud to work with (the Marines) and my unit is proud of working with (them also).”
But the ground elements were not the only ones who saw success in the partnership between the two countries.
The LCE held their culminating event with Philippine Marines with Motor Transport and Maintenance Battalion in the afternoon of the same day at the muddy base of the mountains.
U.S. Marines with 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF, purposely trapped a seven-ton in the deep, sticky mud, and Philippine and U.S. Marines together, pulled it out by attaching cables connected to a Logistics Vehicle System ‘Wrecker’ to the truck.
The Philippine and U.S. Marines practiced this vehicle recovery exercise several times, trapping the seven-ton in different positions and attaching the cables in different ways to get it out.
“Over the past couple of days, we’ve been working with the Philippine Marines, comparing gear, and what assets each of us has,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Jesse B. Boydston, the wrecker chief for 3rd Maintenance Battalion.
The Philippine Marines have a lot of time and experience, according to Boydston.
“The Philippine Marine mechanics and operators mesh together,” said Boydston. “So any Marine they have in the motor transport field is usually a mechanic and can also drive any piece of equipment they have.”
As the sun set on Crow Valley, the events of the day came to a close and the Marines from both countries returned to their respective camps. The day captured the spirit of the exercise, allowing Marines to truly stand shoulder-to-shoulder, or ‘balikatan’ in Tagalog, and work together.