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Symposium of War: Currently in its fourteenth year, the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercise allows III MEF Marines and sailors to exchange ideas with several Southeast Asia militaries. First up for CARAT 2008: The Republic of the Philippine

US Marine Corps News

6/20/2008 By Lance Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt, III Marine Expeditionary Force

CAMP TINIGUIBAN, PALAWAN, Philippines — As the Combat Assault Company convoy approached the small town of Puerto Princesa in the Philippines recently, local residents traded noisily along the crowded store fronts that lined the streets.

But shoppers and shopkeepers stopped and looked on curiously as the convoy moved through the market area toward Camp Tiniguiban, a Filipino Marine base at the edge of town.

The approximately 40 Marines and sailors, with 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, were on their way to train with 25 Filipino Marines from the 67th Marine Corps Raiders Company as a part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2008. CARAT refers to an annual series of bilateral maritime training exercises between the United States and six Southeast Asian nations designed to enhance the operational readiness of the participating forces.

Once at the camp, the Marines, based in Hawaii with augments from Okinawa, wasted no time setting up and kicking off the first presentation covering counter insurgency operations.

The topic is important for the Filipino Marines due to their ongoing fight against anti-government militant groups that operate in the country, according to Filipino Marine Lt. Dejonne Maralli, the commanding officer of the 67th Marine Corps Raiders Company.

After the class, the Marines mingled and talked about the similarities and differences between the U. S. and Filipino Marine Corps. Some were surprised at how close the services were in rank structure, uniforms and even color schemes, as both services boast the scarlet and gold combination as their official colors.

Just the overall attitude and pride that the Filipino Marines possess is “so much like us,” said Cpl. Yia Hang, a rifleman with CAC.

Hang said one of the only differences he noticed was U.S. Marines have more modern technology and equipment at their disposal.

“But even in that sense, they are a lot like us — they are used to doing more with less,” Hang continued.

Later in the training evolution, the Filipino Marines turned to teach the U.S. Marines a thing or two about jungle warfare and survival training.

“Who better to learn from than the people who live and fight here,” said Lance Cpl. Jared N. Carlson, a team leader with CAC.

To start the training, the Filipino Marines led Combat Assault Company into the jungle where the local force had set up various types of animal snares. The Filipino Marines demonstrated how to build, bait, and use the snares effectively. Next they showed the U.S. Marines how to find fresh water by cutting into several types of trees and vines that contain water. The Filipino Marines also showed their counterparts how to identify edible vegetation, pointing out different types of leaves and roots fit for consumption.

However, the survival training would not be complete without a lesson in starting a fire with no matches, lighters or flint, a skill mastered by the Filipino Marines, said Maralli. Shortly after one Filipino Marine went to work using just a few pieces of bamboo and some kindling, smoke began to rise. With a little more effort the smoke turned into a fire that later cooked a five-pound monitor lizard that was caught in one of the snares. Upon trying the exotic dish, most of the U.S. Marines agreed it tasted like chicken.

“It was a great exchange of information,” said Capt. Christopher Kim, commanding officer of CAC, “I’ve found a million and one uses for bamboo.”

Before the three-day visit was over, the Marines exchanged tactics and experiences covering a variety of topics including cordon and search procedures, combat patrols, setting up vehicle check points and weapons handling. By the end of the visit, it appeared several new friendships had been made as the Marines were seen exchanging e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers.

“This is the first stop to several other countries,” said 1st Lt. Kyle E. Johnson, a platoon commander with CAC. “If we have time anywhere close to the quality time we had here, this should be an outstanding trip for us all.”

The Marines left the Philippines in early June to continue CARAT, an exercise that is scheduled to also take them to Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

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