FEYDHOO, Republic of Maldives --
After 10 training days, Exercise Coconut Grove – a bilateral training event conducted bi-annually between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Maldivian National Defense Force – has come to an end.
The closing ceremony was hosted at the Equatorial Convention Center here Oct. 17, just north of Gan Island, where Coconut Grove was conducted.
The exercise focused on basic infantry skills training, to include small-unit tactics, casualty evacuation drills, weapons familiarization classes, military operations on urban terrain (MOUT) and leadership development.
American and Maldivian Marines learned to work together seamlessly, applying everything they learned to successfully execute a joint-force raid, which served as the exercise’s culminating event.
“Everything leading up to this event was a (building-block) approach to training,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ludwig, platoon sergeant with Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. “It’s really important that you use the ‘crawl-walk-run’ method, starting with the basic things … and building on top of that.”
Having the opportunity to hone combat skills was only part of the exercise’s benefit.
The U.S. Marines, who are stationed in dry southern California, were forced to acclimate to jungle-like terrain, humidity and heavy rain. For many of them, it was their first time leaving the United States and interacting with another military.
“It’s been really beneficial for us younger Marines to be able to come through and not only interact with our own company on a training level like this, but also to interact with other countries and be able to see what they do,” said Lance Cpl. Alexander Dewey, a radio operator with Company A.
Although the Marines spent a vast majority of their time training, they also had a day to enjoy snorkeling and fishing with their Maldivian counterparts.
The Marines on the ground weren’t alone in recognizing the relationships that formed throughout the exercise. The closing ceremony was attended by Brig. Gen. Richard. L. Simcock, deputy commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and Michele J. Sison, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Maldives.
Sison took time to commend the troops for the exercise’s success.
“Long live the relationship between our two countries, the United States of America and the Republic of the Maldives,” she said.