‘America’s Battalion’ supports Exercise Talisman Saber
By Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | August 02, 2013
SHOALWATER BAY TRAINING AREA, Australia --
Marines from second platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, played a significant role in bilateral training with the Australian Defence Force during Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.
3rd Marine Regiment
Australian Defence Force
Exercise Talisman Saber
Talisman Saber, a biennial exercise, is designed to enhance multilateral collaboration between U.S. and Australian forces in support of future combined operations, humanitarian assistance and natural disaster response.
Currently designated as Marine Rotational Force Darwin in Australia and temporarily headquartered at Robertson Barracks in Darwin, Lima Company, 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, completed several field operations with Australian forces.
The MRF-D Marines were spread across the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and played different roles throughout the exercise. Marines from second platoon supported the ADF most notably through role-playing as both allies and enemies.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to play the supportive role this time around,” said Cpl. Sean McKinney, a 21-year-old team leader with second platoon, Lima Co., 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, and native of Gaithersburg, Md., who played the role of an insurgent. “We’re used to being the main effort in a lot of field ops, but it’s good to get a chance to see things from a different perspective."
"We don’t normally do the role-playing thing, and we don’t normally play the supporting side during training,” McKinney said. “This exercise is about the Australians, and you’ve just got to realize the work that goes into it. In the end you learn more about your fellow Marines and other services by just being around them.”
More than 40 Australian service members and Marines from second platoon played residents of Waratah Village. The remote community was comprised of market vendors, insurgents and a police force. Australian forces discovered the remote community and began speaking with the leaders of the village with the goal of becoming allies.
“Most of the Marines are playing the roles of corrupt cops, or they’re insurgents,” said 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Ernesto Orantes, platoon sergeant of second platoon, Lima Co., 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines. The native of Los Angeles is also the sergeant of the police force within the village. “More than anything, it shows them a point of view from the enemy’s eyes. It’s easier for them to scrutinize each other, learn how not to act in a real combat environment and to take what they learn seriously.”
Working together, MRF-D and ADF conducted various range operations that allowed both services to practice new tactics and shoot foreign weapons while training side by side.
While designated as MRF-D, the Marines completed different types of weapons ranges, raiding enemy compounds and outposts. Lima Company and the Australian soldiers also participated in a Corporals Course together.
“Sometimes you train and sometimes you help to train,” Orantes said. “At the end of the day it’s about accomplishing the mission, and it takes both of us working together to do that.”
Although Talisman Saber will conclude Aug. 5, the Marines from Lima Company will remain in Australia and return to Darwin to continue training with Australian forces. The Marines will fly home to Marine Corps Base Hawaii at the end of their deployment by the end of the year.
“I hope we just build a strong bond with these guys while we’re out here,” McKinney said. “By doing that, we can build a solid reputation with the Australian forces and set it up for future operations.”