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Marines train with Aussies

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Jonathan Wright, Marine Corps Bases Japan

SHOALWATER BAY, Australia -- Marines hugged the walls inside buildings as they trained their eyes skyward from the edges of windows. The low hum that drove them to cover grew louder as high above the town hung the silhouette of an Australian unmanned aerial vehicle.

The Marines are with 3rd and Weapons platoons, Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force. They have held defensive positions since June 27 at Raspberry Creek here during Exercise Hamel 2012, a multinational training exercise between Marine, Australian Army and New Zealand Army units.

Holed up in a simulated small town within Raspberry Creek with Australian assets serving as the local police force and civilian populace, Marines prepared for an impending attack from the Australian 1st Brigade.

“They’re out there, but they’re being very cautious in how they advance,” said Lance Cpl. Luis Duran, a squad automatic weapon gunner with Company G, BLT 2/1, 31st MEU. “In the meantime, UAVs have been constantly flying overhead while small reconnaissance teams have been testing our defenses.”

The exercise serves as the certification for operational deployment for 1st Brigade, which is tasked with pushing back and eliminating the Marine and Australian contingent at Raspberry Creek.

As of July 1, all Marine and Aussie advances have been repelled back to Raspberry Creek, which serves as a dividing terrain feature between the opposing forces.

“I give it up to the Australians for treating this exercise like it is a real conflict,” said Sgt. Jose Morales, a squad leader with the company. “Any procedures they would conduct in a combat environment are practiced, such as treatment of enemy prisoners of war. No corners are being cut in this exercise.”

Though there have been small skirmishes outside Raspberry Creek lines, no major offensives have occurred. First Brigade has been preparing for the assault through use of continuous UAV surveillance, flyovers by jet aircraft and ground reconnaissance.

Using reconnaissance and artillery assets of their own, the Marine and Aussie contingent has been fending off 1st Brigade’s intelligence collection attempts and is keeping it at bay – for now.

“We’ve had the opportunity to continually reinforce the defenses in and around the town as we fend off 1st Brigade,” said Lance Cpl. Theodore Kavich, a team leader with 3rd platoon.

Raspberry Creek is surrounded by a trench system, concertina wire and simulated mine fields. Inside the town lies more concertina wire and the Marines’ reinforced defensive positions.

Marines will keep conducting immediate actiondrills throughout the town, but the continual threat of UAVs has kept them under the cover of buildings. Until 1st Brigade launches its offensive, Marines are keeping a vigilant eye on their surroundings.

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