MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii – Canadian Forces are nearly 4,000 miles from their home station in Shilo, Manitoba. During a three-day training event, their American hosts did everything they could to keep them from feeling at home.
U.S. Marines acted as the opposition force to more than 120 Canadian Forces soldiers during military operations in urbanized terrain (MOUT) training here, July 6-8, during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2012.
“We’ve done urban operations training (in Canada), so here we’re just enhancing our (standard operating procedures) by working with the Marines,” said Canadian Forces Sgt. Victor Law, a section commander with Company A, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Law, who is in charge of an eight-man team, said it was his first time working with U.S. Marines. He added that the experience, along with the realism of the training facility’s mock village, would prove valuable to his team.
“It’s allowed our troops to break through plateaus and gain a better threshold on their soldiering abilities,” said Law, from Quesnel, British Columbia.
Canadian Forces focused on their tactics for noncombatant evacuation operations, or NEO, which in a real-world scenario would involve the evacuation of civilians from a hostile area.
“It’s important training because if we do operate with them again we know exactly how they work, and how we can better ourselves (as a team),” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Noel Desantiago, a squad leader with Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and one of the Marines acting as the “enemy” during the training.
He spoke highly of his Canadian counterparts.
“They operate very well – just as well as Marines do,” said Desantiago, a native of Porterville, Calif.
More than 2,200 personnel from Canada, the United States and seven other countries are taking part in RIMPAC 2012 as part of the Combined Force Land Component Command, which is conducting amphibious and land-based operations throughout the exercise in order to enhance multinational and joint interoperability between participating nations.
Since the visiting Canadian Forces were unfamiliar with the mock village, the training progressed with a “crawl, walk, run” approach, becoming more elaborate each day. By the last full day of the evolution, the entire company of Canadian soldiers had successfully exercised the NEO scenario.
Canadian Forces will continue training with U.S. troops, as well as other foreign militaries, until RIMPAC 2012 concludes Aug. 3.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our soldiers, our leadership and our coalition partners,” said Canadian Forces Capt. Benjamin Wong, operations captain for Company A. “It gives us an opportunity to cross-train … it also gives us a good chance to measure ourselves and see where we stand in the world.
“We all have different experiences,” said Wong, from Hamilton, Ontario. “(RIMPAC gives us the opportunity) to pool all those experiences into one big pot, see what other countries are doing, what lessons people have learned over the years, and then apply those lessons to our own missions and situations.”
A total of 22 nations and more than 25,000 personnel are participating in the biennial exercise from June 29 to Aug 3, which takes place in and around the Hawaiian Islands. RIMPAC is the world’s largest naval exercise.