WAIOURU MILITARY CAMP, New Zealand --
Papua New Guinean engineers from Engineer Battalion and sappers with 2 Field Squadron Royal Engineers based out of Linton Military Camp, New Zealand, received improvised explosive device identification training from Marines during the initial stages of exercise Southern Katipo 2013 aboard Waiouru Military Camp, New Zealand, Nov. 9.
Capt. Phillip Vanderweit, combat engineer officer for 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, from Belhaven, N.C., said the training brings a vital exchange of perspectives.
“Exercises like this are great because they teach us how to adapt to each other and get the mission done quicker and more effectively,” he said.
Three Marine instructors taught the Papua New Guineans and New Zealanders a variety of classes focusing on the most important tool to identify IEDs: the eyes.
One of them, Sgt. Patrique Fearon, combat engineer for 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, from Hartford, Conn., brought a handful of examples of typical IEDs seen in Afghanistan for the engineers to look at and familiarize themselves with prior to a practical application exercise.
“The training is a basic package of what we try to teach our Marines on a daily basis, so that way they know what to expect when they get out there in Afghanistan,” he said.
The Marines are well-versed in IED tactics and procedures utilized in Afghanistan, information their counterparts could only benefit from.
“A lot of these guys with this group either haven’t deployed or don’t really have much exposure to counter-IED training specific to Afghanistan,” Vanderweit said.
Once an equal mentality is established, the mission becomes the focus.
“There are so many different nations involved in exercises that we do,” Vanderweit said. “Knowing how to work [with others] puts you ahead of the power curve which lessens the growing pains.”
SK13 strengthens coalition relationships and confidence through a variety of training that would occur normally in theatre.
“I’ve taught classes to different countries’ [service members] in Afghanistan,” Fearon said. “But as far as a multicultural exercise and working together, this exercise is pretty good. We are learning a lot from each other.”
The service members represented in SK13 are excited to learn and practice the skills being taught. The exercise creates a hunger to grow, Fearon said.