MORON AIR BASE, Spain --
Exhaustion had set in and the summer heat wore down their bodies, but the Marines knew that there was no choice but to accomplish the mission. Anything less was unacceptable – a failure not only to themselves but to their brethren, Spanish and American alike.
That intensity was demonstrated when U.S. Marines from Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response and Spanish Marines joined together for a bilateral training event known as BREDEX in Sierra del Retin, Spain, June 2-6. Dedication to their fellow Marines urged the participants onward through a difficult but valuable training mission.
Bilateral training such as BREDEX is useful to the Marines for traditional reasons such as maintaining and improving tactics, techniques and procedures for infantry related skills. Additionally, bilateral training offers different national armed forces a chance to develop a sense of camaraderie and improve their ability to operate together. Ultimately, the intent is the advancement of international security through skillful and integrated military cooperation.
“We conducted this training to increase our familiarity with the Spanish and help build a rapport with them,” said 1st Lt. Dustin Allen, the platoon commander for 2nd Platoon, from the SP-MAGTF Crisis Response ground combat element. “In the process, we gained a tremendous respect for the Spanish Marines. They do tough realistic training just like we do. They had to operate in the same rough environment. Just like us, they were short on supply, and so we all had to rely on each other.”
The physically demanding training began with hands on instruction with the SuperCat rapid boat. The classes were led by the Spanish Marines from the 1st Marine Landing Battalion and explained the boat’s capabilities and how to tactically employ the vehicles.
Following the amphibious training day, the Marines moved to a live-fire range where they conducted squad and platoon-level fire and movement drills in preparation for the battalion-level tactical exercise which they were going to conduct later in the week.
“We conducted basic drills and patrolling fundamentals and it culminated into a 24-hour field exercise, where we were attached with a Spanish company. This training definitely challenged the Marines mentally and physically,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Perusich, the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon.
As a part of that 24-hour field exercise, the U.S. and Spanish Marines combined together while using the skills developed earlier in the week and the SuperCat boats and amphibious assault vehicles. As an integrated unit, they used their newly developed skills and equipment to perform an assault on their target objective.
“This training definitely showed us how far we can push ourselves, how to conserve our water, how to push through an objective while being exhausted,” said Lance Cpl. John Cooper, a machine gunner with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response. “It really gave me confidence in my abilities and in those of my fellow Marines.”
In addition to the various infantry based events during the training, Spanish and American explosive ordnance disposal experts also exchanged information and tactics throughout the week.
EOD Marines conducted range sweeping training and demolitions training aboard the high explosives ranges in Sierra del Retin. The goal for the Americans was to learn more about different types of foreign ordnance and how best to locate, neutralize and dispose of them.
“(The Spanish) were more than happy to demonstrate and show to us what they do tactically, how they operate and then allowing us to show them what we do,” said Allen. “And throughout the training there were little things that they did and things that we did that neither of us had seen before. That was really beneficial and motivating to the Marines.”
The Marines of SP-MAGTF Crisis Response are forward positioned out of Moron Air Base, Spain, to provide a rapid response to U.S. Africa Command and to promote regional security interests through cooperation with international partners. They are trained and equipped to provide a broad spectrum of crisis response capabilities to include: embassy reinforcement, fixed-site security, support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and support to non-combatant evacuation operations.