Chilean Marines train with 'America's Finest'

21 Nov 2003 | Lance Cpl. Adam C. Schnell

Fifty Marines from the Chilean Marine Corps participated in an annual bilateral exchange exercise here with one mission in mind: to train.

The Chilean Marines joined 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and 5th Battalion, 10th Marines from Nov. 5-16, coming together for a mutual training experience.

"To put it simply, it's like a washing machine, you put everyone together, and they learn from each other," said Staff Sgt. Jeff V. Dagenhart, company gunnery sergeant for I Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.

Along with increasing military-to-military professional relations, the exchange exercise also helps to strengthen ties between the two Marine Corps' by providing time to interact together.

During the visit the Marines received training in the areas of Military Operations in Urban Terrain and marksmanship skills used to manage threats in urban areas.

Before the Chilean Marines came here, they spent a month preparing for the bilateral exercise, said 2nd Lt. Jens Rosenkranz, the platoon leader for the Chilean Marines.

Much like their American counterparts the Chilean Marine also engage in ongoing training once becoming a member of the military.

"I've been training since I enlisted about nine months ago," said Pvt. Alexis Lorca in translated words.

The 19-year-old infantrymen went on to say he was very excited to be in the United States and would retain as much knowledge as possible for use when the time comes.

With Marines from two different countries coming together, many problems could arise during training. One problem foreseen was the language barrier and being able to communicate effectively.

To address this about 30 Spanish-speaking Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines were identified to be translators for the exercise, said Dagenhart, a Hickory, N.C., native.

A schedule change for the exercise also resolved a problem the Chilean Marines encountered with their visit.  Normally, the bilateral exchange happens in the middle of summer when temperatures and humidity levels here can be very high.

The problem with hosting the exercise in the summer is the temperature change for the Chilean Marines, who at that time of the year are coming from their winter season.

A Chilean Marine, who has participated in the exercise three years in a row, said the temperature change is a hard to adjust to right away and the weather is much nicer here in the fall than summer.

Rosenkranz ended by saying, "To come here and train with the U.S. Marine Corps is a special opportunity for these Chilean Marines. The knowledge gained here will be used to teach the other Marines who didn't get to come."