Spanish, American Marines train to fight IEDs

23 Jun 2011 | Cpl. Dwight A. Henderson

U.S. Marines with engineer platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted improvised explosive device training with Spanish Marine engineers from El Tercer Batallón Mecanizado de Desembarco, aboard Sierra Del Retin, Spain, June 23, 2011.

The training was part of the Spanish Amphibious Bilateral Exercise, also known as PHIBLEX, a 10-day exercise involving U.S. Marines with the 22nd MEU training alongside Spanish Marines to build relations and increase interoperability with the Spanish.

“It has been a blast,” said Lance Cpl. Mathew D. Bair, an engineer and York, Penn., native with engineer platoon.  “These guys were enthusiastic. They took it serious and took it to heart.”

The Marines started the morning teaching the Spanish servicemembers about types of IED and their visual indicators.  Then they moved to practical application where Marines established an IED lane filled with fake IEDs.  The Marines and Spanish gathered in small groups and worked together to find the IEDs.

The Marines then taught classes on the VMC1 mine detector, including how to operate it and proper sweeping techniques.  In turn, the Spanish taught the Marines about their mine detector, a similar model made by the same company, making the cross training easier.

“This has been a great experience especially because of all their knowledge,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan E. Anderson, the engineer platoon sergeant and Greensboro, N.C., native.  “It’s like training with a Marine unit from the West Coast or Okinawa.  It’s good to see they perform some of the same techniques.”

The Marines and Spanish later established another IED lane filled with mines and metal plates where both Marines and Spanish practiced their own and each others’ sweeping techniques.

“I have no doubt in their ability to operate in a combat environment,” said Anderson. “The Spanish are very comfortable with their skill set.”

The Spanish expect to deploy to Afghanistan soon and took advantage of the experience the U.S. Marines posses to better prepare them for the deployment.

“The experience the Marines have is important for us in order to build on the training,” said Staff Sgt. David Ramos, the platoon sergeant for the Spanish Marines’ engineer platoon. “It will help with our tactics.”

Ramos went on to explain, working with U.S. Marines has been the best training he received in his 13 years in the military.  He said working with the best makes him strive to be the best.

“We learn from each other,” said Ramos. “We learn what similarities we have and this builds the bond between us.”

The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group serving as a flexible, formidable and potent force who continues to train and improve their capability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.

The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission, capable force, commanded by Col. Eric J. Steidl and comprised of an Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); a Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.

Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps’ smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response to hostile environment or crisis.

22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit