U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and French airborne soldiers with 8th Infantry Regiment, Company de Clerage et D’Appius, conducted combat marksmanship program training here Oct. 4.
The training was a part of Exercise AMERCAL 2011 from Sept. 23 - Oct.10, on the islands of Oahu and New Caledonia, a French territory in the south west Pacific. AMERCAL is a platoon-level exchange between the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia and U.S. Marines. During the exercise, 35 French soldiers came to Oahu, while approximately 50 U.S. Marines trained with French Armed Forces in New Caledonia.
The purpose was to enhance interoperability, improve military-to-military relations and sharpen warfighting skills through a combined training exchange. U.S. Marines and French soldiers achieved this by focusing on platoon-level dismounted training in open terrain, military operations on urban terrain (MOUT) and live-fire ranges.
France and the United States are longtime NATO allies, and AMERCAL 2011 demonstrated the nations’ continued commitment to cooperative security in the Pacific.
“It’s important for us (to train) with the U.S. Army and especially the Marines because we can see the way (they work),” said French Army Adjutant Guillaune Jay, platoon sergeant with 8th Infantry Regiment, Company de Clerage et D’Appius. “Many times we meet one another on an operation, and it’s good for my young soldiers to begin working with other nations.”
“It’s been a great opportunity for our Marines to work with one of our partner nations and expose themselves to some different tactics from around the world,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Kephart, a platoon sergeant for Company F, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “It’s been a good training opportunity, allowing them to get together and learn about their weapon systems.”
The French soldiers and U.S. Marines not only trained hard, but played hard as well. They took the opportunity to exchange cultural ideas during their liberty hours, enjoying the local beaches and seeing Waikiki with the U.S. Marines. The French soldiers were also able to get familiar with American football.
“We took them to Pearl Harbor, we had a barbecue, played some American football … that was something they really wanted to do,” Kephart said. “We were lucky to be able to train with them. We are just happy to have them here.”