GLAFYRA RANGE, Greece --
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed the second theater security cooperation exercise of its eight-month deployment, March 10 by training with Greek marines at the Glafyra Range near Volos, Greece.
More than 80 U.S. Marines and approximately 70 Greek marines trained together to learn from each other’s experience and techniques during the four-day bilateral exercise.
“The range consisted of very hilly terrain that was conducive for combined-arms training,” said Sgt. Buck Chambers, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 22nd MEU, assault section leader and native of Ocean City, Md. “Once we saw what we had to work with, we immediately began planning for the final event of the exercise.”
Throughout the exercise, the Greeks employed their Apache helicopters, Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks and M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) alongside the U.S. Marines’ arsenal of air support and weaponry.
The first day comprised machine gun, mortar and rocket live-fire training that went into the night. For the next day, U.S. Marines familiarized the Greeks with MV-22 Osprey operations and fast roping from a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. The second-to-last day was spent rehearsing for the last day’s event.
For the final event, the U.S. and Greek forces integrated for a large-scale, combined-arms attack, including live tank, mortar, machine gun and small-arms fire, as well as helicopters providing simulated close-air support.
“We had a reinforced platoon loaded in the Greek APCs, which were able to maneuver into the engagement area under the covering fire of Greek and U.S. mortars and machine guns, allowing us to dismount from the APCs and engage machine gun bunkers with small rockets,” said Chambers. “This gave an opportunity for the rest of the platoon to advance and clear the objective.”
The battalion had no translators throughout the exercise with the exception of a single Marine whose family hails from the neighboring city, Volos. Nonetheless, the exercise was completed as planned.
“Dealing with the communication barriers and still being able to successfully execute two large-scale exercises was a great experience,” said 1st Lt. Joe Crider, BLT 1/6 fourth platoon commander and native of Springboro, Ohio. “These are difficulties we don’t face or train with very often, since we all speak the same language or have similar backgrounds back home.”
The exercise ended much as it began, when the U.S. Marines offered several Greek marines the opportunity to fire M136E1 AT4-CS confined space, light anti-armor weapons.
“The look on their faces when they hit a target was like a kid opening a Christmas present,” said Chambers.
At the end of the exercise, the Greek marines invited the MEU to return for further training.
“The most valuable thing that I gained is the knowledge about allied forces that, if I saw them somewhere, I’d know that they have my back and they’d know that I have theirs,” concluded Chambers.
The MEU is deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations with the Bataan ARG as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.