CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The U.S. Marine Corps and the Netherlands Marine Corps have a long-standing relationship dating back to 1943 and have exchanged officers to share knowledge and strengthen relationships between nations. Most recently, the commanding general of 2d Marine Division recognized it’s 22nd Netherlands exchange officer, Capt. Fabian Schra.
Schra, spent the last 2 years working with 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Marine Division. During this time, he was instrumental in the execution of Dutch and U.S. bi-annual exercises which are intended to strengthen interoperability between partner nations. As his tour of duty on Camp Lejeune came to an end, Schra reflected on his experience.
“A lot of bilateral exercises were already planned, but we also were able to strengthen the bonds through new opportunities and really small exchanges where just a couple of Marines would go to the Netherlands or to the states,” said Schra.
Maj. Douglas Price, the battalion operations officer of 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, commented on the importance of the U.S. Dutch partnership.
“Overall, the strategic partnership that we maintain with the Netherlands Marine Corps has long term valuable lasting importance in readiness for global contingency operations,” said Price. “Our NATO allies will need the Marine Corps and we will need them for anything that may happen globally.”
In the meantime, Shra’s efforts to develop training opportunities provide the Dutch and U.S. Marines to integrate in urban and amphibious assault scenarios. They also conduct more specialized training like breaching and fire support coordination, as well as a humanitarian and stability operations, in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and dive training at Dutch training sites in Aruba.
“This training helps us to understand each other as Marines, but also the culture of how things are don’t within their own Marine Corps, and exchanging that way of thinking and working,” said Schra, adding, the important part of doing these bilateral exchanges is strengthening the bonds between the two organizations and the people participating.
“Working is such a huge organization with all the different levels involved definitely learned me valuable experiences for the rest of my Marine career. Besides this, I think I was able to really experience the American and Marine culture which will help me during future cooperations with the USMC in exercises or real time operations.”