MARINE COPRS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
When bulldogs, dingoes and coyotes are found roaming the Combat Center’s training areas, they’re not scavenging for food or water. Instead, they’re calling the shots.
The Australian military forces, nicknamed dingoes and British bulldogs respectively, have embedded their Marines and soldiers with the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group coyotes here to help train U.S. Marines and learn from them.
“They may wear different uniforms, but they still give valuable guidance,” said Maj. Craig P. Himel, the TTECG Infantry Battalion Team East officer in charge. “They do a great job of bringing fresh pairs of eyes and perspectives to the things going on here. Some of these guys have been in 28 years, and even if some of them haven’t deployed as many times as some Marines, 28 years of experience is 28 years of experience. They certainly have things to bring to the table.”
Both international forces help TTECG Marines train units in the Clear, Hold, Build training concept at two major Enhanced Mojave Viper areas controlled by Infantry Battalion Teams West and East. Team West controls the Combined Arms Military Operations on Urban Terrain Range and Combat Center Range 220 by Camp Wilson and the platoon and company live-fire Ranges 410 and 401. Team East has oversight of the urban villages at Combat Center Ranges 200 and 215, as well as the platoon and company live-fire Ranges 410A and 400.
The bulldogs and dingoes normally focus on the hold stage of CHB I, Himel said. The hold stage, which involves a cordon and search, is the trickiest and most complex because it forces Marines and sailors to walk a tightrope between cultural sensitivity and mission priority, he said.
There are currently five dingoes and three bulldogs aboard the Combat Center. Two dingoes and two bulldogs work out of Team East, two dingoes and one bulldog with Team West, and one dingo is assigned to a Scout Sniper section of TTECG. The bulldogs here are the first to train as TTECG instructors in the U.S.
Although this is only the bulldogs’ second rotation, dingoes, who have six-month rotations here, have been working on scene with units training since 2005, said Sgt. David Wilson of the Australian Army.
“We spend a lot of time on counter insurgency assistance,” said Wilson, a Darwin, Australia native. “They spend time with the Marines and examine how they operate and help them make any needed changes.”
The internationals act as the TTECG Corridor Coyote’s eyes and ears, much like the TTECG instructors, called coyotes. They typically follow a platoon or company commander during live-fire and urban training to offer guidance about tactics, techniques and procedures, Himel said.
The bulldogs’ two-month rotations at the Combat Center mark only one aspect of their training prior to deploying to Afghanistan in three to four month intervals. These frequent rotations in theater make them familiar with the most recent activities in Afghanistan. This makes them great assets to the Combat Center’s training team, Himel said.
“We’ll get sent to Afghanistan and embed with the Brits for about a month at a time,” said Color Sgt. Kevin McCauley, a soldier with the British Operations Training Advisory Group and native of Nottingham, England. “One of the prerequisites for being in
the Operational Training Advisory Group is having had recent experience in Afghanistan with decent reports on your work there. That’s what the command is aiming for – high standards.”
Capt. Richard Sharp, a British Royal Marine with OPTAG, agreed.
“We’re passing on a load of what we’ve learned on to these guys,” said Sharp, a native of London. “We’ve lived those mistakes some people make here. We’re familiar with the climate and geography in Afghanistan, but we can also really benefit from going through [Enhanced] Mojave Viper.”
Sharp said there is a similar village training area in England, but it does not compare to the ranges here. A similar number of bulldogs are slated to participate in similar training at Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., some time in October, Sharp said.
Himel said he enjoys the time and knowledge shared among the three country’s military representatives.
“It’s important to build camaraderie with our allies,” Himel said.
Although the patterns and colors of uniforms may differ from one country’s fighting force to another, the concept of fighting for one’s country is something all warriors can appreciate.