As part of the ongoing cooperation between the Israeli Defense Forces and the US Armed Forces stationed in Europe, a company of US Marines came to Israel for a month of intensive training at IDF facilities and alongside IDF soldiers. Dividing their time between the Adam Base in central Israel and the Tze'elim Base in the south, the soldiers trained in urban and cautious warfare, reconnaissance, and at various shooting ranges.
As they embark on a training exercise at the UWTC, Platoon Sgt. Robert Hattenbach explains, "We've never been to a mock town like that of the IDF." He mentions the facility's size and unique structure and continues "it's important for our soldiers to train in different sites, preparing them for anything."The soldiers were thrilled to train at the city as well, raving about its realistic feel.
A smoke grenade hits the floor, rapidly secreting thick smoke of a vibrant color used for camouflage against the lurking enemy. Yelling out commands, M4s ready, they sneak from building to building, clearing out every room and securing their objective.
The success of the operation is determined by the Captain, and the "enemy" is a squad of the Marines platoon, hiding inside each multiple story building waiting for the other squads to find them.
"By training here," Hospital Corpsman HM1 Raymond Price elaborates, "we can better combat terrorism at any area and field." He continues, "coming to Israel has been an inspirational trip, it's beautiful to see how Israel has managed to preserve so many years of history, culture and tradition."
"This trip was a serious wake up call," says Sgt. Hattenbach. "The instructors at the Adam Base took the time to explain to us what's been going on in Israel and we realized that Israeli people are just like us. We now better understand what Israel really is and when we go back to the US we can tell people that."
The company is one of the only young Marines units; all at around 19 years old, they are close in age to the Israeli soldiers and were able to from close bonds. However unlike IDF soldiers, the Marines volunteer to draft. "We have a responsibility for our country," they agree, "you can't just sit at home hearing of everything going on in the world and remain idle."
This particular company, the Marine Corps Fast Team Security Forces, enlisted for five years, three of which they spend deployed to Europe or Africa and after further infantry training are sent to the battle fronts at either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Concluding their training in Israel, the company went for a well-deserved rest at the Dead Sea.
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