Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, conducted counter insurgency training in which they patrolled through scene that resembles an Afghanistan town searching for possible improvised explosive devices and interacted with role players who dressed like citizens of Afghanistan, August 17-18.
The training was done in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan later in the year.
“This training was a good opportunity to practice interacting with people who don’t speak English and try to communicate with them,” said Lance Cpl. Randall Hernandez, squad leader. “I think it helps a lot, it’s definitely good training.”
In order to make the training as real as possible, the role players interact with the Marines but do not speak in English with them. The Marines must use words and phrases they have learned in order to communicate with the villagers. Depending on the scenario, there is usually a translator that helps the Marines communicate with the villagers.
“Working with the local populace makes the training more realistic,” continued Hernandez, who is slated to go on his second deployment to Afghanistan with the battalion. “It’s harder because of the language barrier, but it’s good practice. We got to see how they are and how they act in Afghanistan.”
According to 1st Lt. Matt Tweed, platoon commander, this training was a step up from what they have been doing lately.
“We went to Fort Pickett and did some MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain),” said Tweed. “Now it’s a step up because we included a human terrain.”
With the addition of the role players this training, was focused on not only on being on the lookout for potential IED’s but also for setting up and building a rapport with locals.
“The training taught squad leaders and platoon commanders how to identify key leaders in towns and to develop a good relationship with them in country,” continued Tweed. “There’s a lot going on at once between identifying IED’s, the possibility of having to call a CASEVAC (casualty evacuation) and interacting with the local populace.”
Tweed also emphasized the importance of trying to get over the language barriers between the Marines and the local population.
“We’re trying to get them out there and engaging with people who don’t speak the language and have a different culture,” said Tweed. “It’s one thing talking about it in a class or doing MOUT without the people in the town, but the role players add a different spin on things. The Marines have to get a lot more involved.”
Hernandez also felt the training was realistic and very important in preparation for their future deployment.
“It’s important we build a rapport with the local people,” said Hernandez. “I talked to them (the role players) and asked them what they needed and if there was anything we could do to help. It helps if they know us better. If people came into your neighborhood and started telling everyone they were there to help most people wouldn’t really believe them.”
If those people came and first got to know you and the people in your neighborhood and learned about you and your customs then you would probably trust them a little more,” Hernandez continued. “That’s why I believe it’s important to build a strong relationship with them.”