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A Marine demonstrates how to search civilians to role players posing as Afghan National Army counterparts before a patrol exercise March 8, 2011 at Range 220.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Patrols prepare Hawaii-based Marines to work with Afghan soldiers

11 Mar 2011 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, put their last three weeks’ worth of training to the test with a patrol accompanied by Afghan role players March 8, 2011. Their actions were assessed by members of the Advisor Training Group.

The training not only focused on interaction and learning the culture, but also how to advise and teach Afghan National Army soldiers combat rules and techniques.

“We assess them on the skills they learn here,” said Capt. Nicholas Abbate, an instructor at ATG and team one lead assessor for the day. “They learn to advise our host nation on doctrinal warfare functions in a counterinsurgency environment.”

The Marines selected for the training were chosen from random platoons and companies across their battalion. This enables the group to share what they learned with as many of their fellow Marines as possible.

The Marines partnered up with role players posing as ANA soldiers to practice teaching classes on searching for improvised explosive devices and other combat patroling techniques.

When the patrol began, the Marines and soldiers discovered a simulated IED, giving the Marines an opportunity to show the ANA role players how to deal with the situation.

“It’s great to be put in this type of environment before it really happens in Afghanistan,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Smith, a corpsman for 1/3.

The Marines and soldiers also stopped at a notional hospital to negotiate getting extra supplies they needed and at the governor’s house to announce their presence to the area and learn about the concerns and needs of the local population.

As the group pressed on, they were ambushed by an insurgent using rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire. Aside from detaining the insurgent, the Marines and soldiers also tended to four role playing civilian casualties, whose injuries included broken bones, burns, a sucking chest wound and leg amputation.

“It was a hectic situation and hard,” Smith said. “It’s designed to be stressful. This training is very realistic, and it was a lot of hands-on.”

The Marines and soldiers medically evacuated the casualties then finished their patrol.

“We worked really well together,” said Cpl. Jacob Bettilyon, a Marine 1/3. “The language barrier was hard, but it was a great experience.”

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