October 24, 2012 --
CAMP HANSEN, Japan - More than 1,300 personnel from eight nations conducted a multilateral field training exercise as the final phase of Exercise Croix du Sud at Kumac, New Caledonia, Oct. 21-25.
Croix du Sud is a multilateral exercise hosted by the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia involving two U.S. Marine Corps platoons and elements of the armed forces of Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Kingdom of Tonga.
The U.S. Marines who participated are with 1st Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“We conducted simulated humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations, noncombatant evacuation operations and an assault during the five days,” said Sgt. Guillermo L. Fargas, the platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon. “We worked in conjunction with all the participating nations to respond to a simulated tsunami hitting New Caledonia.”
The exercise was designed to strengthen interoperability between the different militaries through the exchange of procedures and sharing of past experiences, according to French Gen. Jean-Francois Parlanti, the supreme commander of French forces in New Caledonia.
The exercise consisted of multiple training events focused on supporting a displaced populace following the simulated natural disaster.
After landing in the simulated disaster zone, the French and U.S. Marines worked together to establish control bases in the area.
“When we landed, we were tasked to patrol down to a nearby soccer field and set up security,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Cory R. Pirtle, a rifleman with 1st platoon.
The Marines secured the field for the French to follow up and establish a battalion headquarters. The following day, the Marines were tasked with sending a quick reaction force to calm a simulated civilian riot at the battalion headquarters.
“We sent the Marines out with the British soldiers to be a presence and make sure the riot did not get out of hand while the Vanuatu soldiers controlled the crowd,” said Fargas.
When the riot was settled, the Marines headed back to base to get ready for their next task, which was to conduct a resupply mission with the French Marines, according to Fargas.
“Our mission was to secure a landing zone in a field and wait for the French to drop humanitarian aid supplies from their planes,” said Fargas. “Once they were dropped, we recovered and delivered the supplies back to base.”
Militaries would use this resupply technique in an HADR situation because most of the roads would be damaged in a natural disaster, according to Fargas.
The Marines’ final mission was a helicopter assault operation on a simulated enemy compound.
“We took a squad and coordinated with the French to take out the enemy on a remote island north of our position,” said 1st Lt. Forrest L. Martin, platoon commander for 1st platoon. “We landed on the island, linked up with the French, and maneuvered and took the enemy out together.”
The training exercise was the closest simulation to a three-block war a military can get, according to Fargas. A three-block war is a scenario when, taking a platoon as an example, one squad is conducting combat operations, another is conducting humanitarian aid operations, and another is conducting peacekeeping operations all in the same area of operation. The training scenario was beneficial to each country’s participants.
“We train in these situations to be able to intervene when circumstances are so damaged that only militaries can do something with their specific abilities, especially for HADR and NEO scenarios,” said Parlanti. “This exercise allowed for the militaries to return to their countries with a better understanding of these missions, making them more effective and efficient.”
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