SIERRA DEL RETIN, SPAIN --
U.S. Marines from Easy Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Spanish Marines from 9th Mechanized Company, 3rd Mechanized Landing Battalion, conducted a mechanized raid aboard Sierra Del Retin, Spain, June 25, 2011.
The exercise was part of the Spanish Amphibious Bilateral Exercise, also known as PHIBLEX, a 10-day evolution involving Marines from the 22nd MEU training with Spanish Marines to increase interoperability and relations between Spain and America.
“With all the coordination it’s very important for my company to do this training with the Marines from the 22nd MEU,” said Spanish Marine Capt. Antonio Martinez Vallejo, the company commander of 9th Mechanized Company. “It was a great opportunity for me.”
Starting from a local beach, the Spanish Piranhas, a light armored vehicle similar to those used by U.S. Marines, and amphibious assault vehicles started their raid.
The two nations moved quickly together across the dry grass hills. As platoons of U.S. Marines rushed out of the ramps of the AAVs to secure an area, the Spanish would push past in their Piranhas to secure the next objective.
“Deliberate hand offs at different phases of the operation, that doesn’t happen by accident, that shows how professional they are as a fighting organization,” said Capt. Brandon J. Gorman, commanding officer for Easy Company.
The Marines and Spanish took turns controlling the air support circling above. The smooth transitions showed the excellent bilateral planning and coordination between the U.S. Marines and Spanish.
“Overall, the attack went well,” said Vallejo. “The Marines have a lot of experience in this type of maneuver. It’s a great opportunity to see the Marines in action.”
The U.S. and Spanish Marines worked towards this level of coordination for nearly four days. The MEU Marines taught the Spanish their tactics, techniques and procedures and the Spanish showed the Marines some of their procedures as well.
“When the Spanish arrived at the training area, they were very professional,” said Lance Cpl. Arturo M. Alegria, a team leader and Chicago native with Easy Company. “I was surprised to see how much they wanted to learn.”
The U.S. Marines and Spanish worked together throughout the exercise, which culminated into an amphibious assault with 22nd MEU and Spanish Marines.
“Overall, down to the junior-Marine level, my Marines are saying they learned a lot from working with their Spanish counterparts,” said Gorman.
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.