Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
The 36 New Zealand Army soldiers, also known as “Kiwis,” arrived at the Combat Center earlier this month for Operation Galvanic Kiwi. The integration in training provided both the Marines and the Kiwis a new plateau for communication and understanding and interoperability.
After their arrival, the soldiers were trained in Marine Corps equipment and operations. They traded in their Steyr AUG rifles for M-16 A4 service rifles and adapted from a five-man team to the Corps’ traditional four-man fire team. Once this initial training was complete, they were ready for the field.
The Kiwis began a three-day joint counterinsurgency exercise with 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion June 20 at the Combat Center’s Combined Arms Military Operations on Urban Terrain town, or Range 220.
“This is a very rare opportunity to train in an environment and to a scale such as this,” said New Zealand Army Maj. Chris Rothery, officer commanding, 2nd Field Squadron, 2nd Engineer Regiment, New Zealand Army. “We operate predominantly in the Southwest Pacific so we’ve never seen anything like this before. We are extremely impressed by the training facilities here.”
The exercise evaluated the Marines’ and Kiwi soldiers’ abilities to not only adapt to a shared method of operations, but also to work together as an integrated force.
Each squad featured both Marines and Kiwis working together to accomplish tasks during specific time periods. They came across role players acting as Afghan nationals and insurgents, simulated improvised explosive devices and enemy fire.
The first day was nothing short of a challenge. The squads cycled through five scenarios in a 25-hour period.
These scenarios took the Marines and soldiers across Range 220. They had to cope with collapsed bridges, hospitals, schools and an underground tunnel system. The soldiers were evaluated on their abilities to use Marine Corps tactics, finish different objectives at each location and patrol while keeping on the lookout for improvised explosive devices and enemy activity.
“They used to take fire and egress. But now they assault through, and that’s not something they used to do,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Alejandro Jasso, platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 3rd CEB. “They’re learning quite a bit.”
The New Zealand Army left for Camp Pendleton after the completion of the three-day exercise Saturday to continue their training with 1st CEB Marines. They will be learning to use heavy equipment and familiarizing themselves with more Marine Corps equipment and procedures.