U.S., Romanian Marines complete counter insurgency training
US Marine Corps News
5/12/2011 By Cpl. Tatum Vayavananda, Black Sea Rotational Force
BABADAG TRAINING AREA, Romania — Down plain, bumpy dirt roads, deep in the farmlands of Babadag, lies the largest and most modern training and firing range in Romania, Babadag Training Area. This is where Romanian Marines and U.S. Marines with Black Sea Rotational Force 11 came to share military experience and train in counterinsurgency operations.
The U.S. Marines worked with platoons of Romanian Marines for two weeks of training in counterinsurgency (COIN) operations that included: combat marksmanship, fundamentals of Improvised-Explosive Devices (IED), Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), non-lethal weapons employment, and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
“We formed some skills that will be useful in any situation we are in,” said Romanian 2nd Lt. Traian Apostolide, platoon commander, Romanian Marines, BSRF-11. “It helps us understand the importance of what we are doing and build skills that will be useful in combat.”
“It’s not that they don’t have these skills already,” said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel A. Devine, Ground Combat Element executive officer, BSRF-11. “It’s teaching them how [the U.S.] does it and adding that extra tool to their toolbox. In return we get stuff from them that we can add to our toolbox and use down the road.”
The combined training prepares both forces to work together in potential future, shared missions and provides a common “language” of tactics and procedures.
The skills from the course are important for COIN environments because they will all be used, said Devine. “So if they have to go into these environments, they are prepared for it,” he added.
The Combat Marksmanship Program (CMP) enhanced the Romanians close-quarter shooting skills at 50 meters or less, typical to COIN, such as an urban environment. The CMP focuses on fire and movement, pivoting and other shooting techniques for close-in engagements.
“It’s getting them out of their comfort zone, making them shoot close together and think ‘I have to get used to this gun going off in my ear’ or ‘I have to be able to pivot left and right and not be stationary and still function,’” he added.
Additionally, several patrolling and convoy operations are rolled into the training.
These skills sets are extremely valuable in environments such as Afghanistan, said Devine.
“They get a piece of [convoy operations] and it is worked in with the IED training, which is a big tool for the enemy, “he added. “We have the latest tactics, techniques and procedures for that.”
[U.S. Marines] have good presentations and there is a good combination of practical applications for new concerns we have now for peacekeeping operations and counterinsurgency, said Romanian Capt. Claudiu Visan, detachment commander, Romanian Marines, BSRF-11.
A final capabilities exercise combined all the skills that were covered in the two-week training period.
“The first part was conducting the raid that included skills in MOUT and Cordon, Search and Seizure,” said Devine.
The Romanian Marines also practiced their mounted patrols and integrating alongside a U.S. Marine fire team.
“They showed a good grasp of the concept; hitting the target with enough speed and violence to keep [the High-Value Targets] off their balance,” said Devine.
Afterwards, U.S. Marine role players simulate a “riot” in the village by chanting, throwing objects and taunting the Romanian forces. They responded with non-lethal suppression instead of shooting the village up.
“Hopefully if they have to deploy in a combat situation they will have learned something from us,” said Cpl. Matthew P. Horton, rifleman, BSRF-11. “These guys were very well prepared; I was expecting to have to work a little bit harder.”
“They picked up the practical applications very quickly and were always willing to learn something new,” added the Amarillo, Texas native.
The Romanian Marines all received diplomas for their completion of the COIN and PKO course at BTA.
“I am proud to have been working with [U.S.] for two weeks and this is proof that I did it,” said Apostolide. “For me, it’s a diploma that I will display proudly.”
“It’s nice to be working with these guys and see them improving and having something to show for it,” said Horton. “I’ve had a great time and I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys really well. It felt good.”
Romania is playing a significant part in the Overseas Contingency Operation, with approximately 1,700 troops serving in Afghanistan, in the Zabul Province, where Taliban activity is high. Romania has lost 19 service members in the conflict, two in just the past week.
Black Sea Rotational Force 11 is a rotational deployment of Marines to the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions of Easter Europe to participate in security cooperation to build military capacity, provide regional stability, and develop lasting partnerships with nations in the region.
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