ODESSA, Ukraine -- Soon after Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (24th MEU (SOC)) established their bivouac site, they joined the rest of the Partnership for Peace forces in an array of training events scheduled to improve the interoperability of a multi-national peace support operation, should the need ever arise.
Different cross training stations were dispersed throughout the training area, from the Humanitarian Assistance (HA) Camp, to the rifle range for weapons familiarization, to the beach for amphibious operations with groups of Marines and Naval Infantry from eight nations. The first phase of training was scheduled to take place over three days. Participants rotated from one training exercise to the next, familiarizing themselves with each other's weapons, vehicles and equipment.
According to Capt. Edward Moorhouse, Commanding Officer of the British Royal Marines company, his unit engages in humanitarian assistance and peace support operations on a regular basis. They have responsibility for training the other nations on HA security, patrolling and casualty evacuations during the first phase of CP00.
"I wouldn't say that we're the experts on HA and peace support operations, because there may be some things that another country may do better," said Moorhouse. "We're really glad to be a part of such a large international exercise."
The Marines crosstrained with the other nations in areas like ship-to-shore familiarization and live fire of weapons.
Marines from Golf Company, BLT 2/6, gave safety briefs and transported several Turkish, Ukrainian and Georgian soldiers in Zodiac boats in the Black Sea.
Taking riders in groups of ten, it seemed as though the Marines of Golf Company couldn't return fast enough to pick up the next group.
"I think everyone enjoyed the rides, and I enjoyed the foreign interaction," said LCpl. Matt Ferko, Boat Mechanic, Golf Company, from Central City, Pa. "And plus it was a great way for us to show off our equipment."
While some were riding the Zodiacs, others were taking a tour of the Ukrainian LST K'Olshanski, which sat one nautical mile off the coast. Ukrainian soldiers transported Marines and soldiers of the other nations by BTR-80, which is the equivalent of the Marine Corps' Light Armored Vehicle (LAV).
As things were cooling off on the beach, it was heating up on the firing range. Eight nations, including the U.S., were stationed on firing lines firing the different weapons of the partnership nations.
"I like this exercise Cooperative Partner, because it's a way to train ourselves and a way to train other nations," said 1stLt. Fabiem Delacotte, of the French Engineer Regiment No. 6, from Amgers, Normandy. I think it is very interesting, because we not only learn about different languages, but we learn about other nations' weapons, materials and equipment. I think it's great."
"All my [detachment's] soldiers, [noncommissioned officers] and officers are pleased to be here."
All seemed to enjoy discovering the firepower and nomenclature of weapons they'd never seen, or used before.
"This joint live fire is a great thing and it has allowed us to learn the techniques of friendly nations around the world," said 1stLt. Bradley Ledbetter, 2nd Platoon Commander, Golf Company, from Huntsville, Ala.
Cooperative Partner 2000 has further confirmed that "Every Clime and Place" is no obstacle for Marines of the 24th MEU (SOC). Even in a multi-national environment, Marines get to broaden their horizons by experiencing other cultures and meeting people of different armed forces.
"This has been pretty exciting for me," said LCpl. Tyree Adams, infantryman, Golf Company, from Atlanta, Ga., "I would have never thought that I'd be in a country formerly considered the Soviet Union, and have the opportunity to meet such a diversified group of people."
Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.