Balikatan 2014 finishes in fire and fury

| May 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Story and photo by
Lance Cpl. Shaltiel Dominguez
1st Marine Logistics Group

Troop C, 3rd Sqrn., 4th Cav. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, and Philippine soldiers from Co. C, 20th Inf. Bn., 8th Inf. Div, engage enemy targets during a battalion FTX as the culminating event for Balikatan 2014, May 15.

Troop C, 3rd Sqrn., 4th Cav. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, and Philippine soldiers from Co. C, 20th Inf. Bn., 8th Inf. Div, engage enemy targets during a battalion FTX as the culminating event for Balikatan 2014, May 15.

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Philippines — Lightning flashed in the night sky as the Soldiers of Troop C (Comanche), 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, silently trekked for nine hours through mountainous jungle terrain toward their objective.
From there, they attempted to engage and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver.
Approximately 250 Philippine and U.S. infantrymen participated in a battalion field training exercise (FTX), May 14-15, at the end of Balikatan 2014.
Alongside Comanche Troop were their counterparts from the Philippine army’s 20th Inf. Bn., 8th Inf. Div., and other Tropic Lightning Soldiers who had trained together for two weeks.
“Terrain, lack of sleep and moving through harsh terrain in low light visibility conditions were just a few of the challenges that we faced,” said Spc. Alexander Soulliere, forward observer, 2nd Platoon, Troop C. “We also had to engage the enemy when we got there, and communicating with the Filipinos was very important.”
Balikatan is designed to improve cooperation and interoperability between the two nations’ armed forces through both humanitarian aid and disaster relief projects, as well as combat skills training.

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Philippines — Sgt. Justin Cormany (front), platoon sergeant, Comanche Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, directs fire at enemy targets during a battalion field training exercise as the culminating event for Balikatan 2014, here, May 15.

Sgt. Justin Cormany, platoon sergeant, Comanche Troop, directs fire at enemy targets .

“Some of the more advanced tactics and techniques of the Americans were different from ours, so it was really beneficial for us to be able to compare and contrast our doctrine with them,” said 2nd Lt. Alge Oronan, Philippine army. “Joint operations like these were what I liked the most about Exercise Balikatan. It was a really good opportunity for us to learn.”
Soldiers participating in the FTX, including the opposing force, comprised of experienced Filipino and American warriors, were equipped with different weapons systems, such as mortars, machine guns, rifles, blank rounds and laser engagement system equipment.
Soldiers were divided into either the support element, which was the group responsible for establishing a base of fire on a larger scale and suppressing the opposition forces, or the assault element, which maneuvered to finish them off.
“In a firefight, it’s important to coordinate with your team to suppress the enemy before moving on them,” said 1st Lt. Jordan Ritter, platoon leader, 2nd Plt., Troop C. “Throughout the past few weeks, we improved our interoperability with our Philippine brothers, and we did good coordinating with them to accomplish the mission.”
Gunfire broke out early at dawn and continued for two hours, as warriors used communication, coordination and all of the combat skills they had honed during the lead-up to the FTX to fight tooth and nail across rice fields and rolling hills to defeat the opposing force.
“We had to make sure everyone was focused on the objective and supporting the Filipinos,” said Sgt. Justin M. Cormany, platoon sergeant, 2nd Plt, Troop C. “During training, there was sometimes a language barrier.

Exercise Balikatan 2014; 25th Infantry Division; Army; soldier; infantry; 25th Infantry Division; 20th Infantry Battalion; 8th Infantry Division; Support; Assault; Comanche; 3rd Squadron; 4th Cavalry Regiment; fire and maneuver; grunt; Alexander Soulliere; Jordan Ritter; Justin M. Cormany

Tropic Lightning Soldiers and their counterparts of the Philippine army’s 20th Bn., 8th Inf. Div, conduct night operations during  Balikatan 2014.

“In our eyes, we saw what we wanted to do, but we might not have been able to communicate that successfully, since we didn’t always have translators,” said Cormany. “But by the time we had to conduct the support by fire, everyone was working together and pushing together. … At the end of the day, we fought our hardest and had a good time.”

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Category: Deployed Forces, News, Training

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