Chilean Marines keep pace

3 Aug 2000 | Cpl. Mike Rogers

Chilean Marines (Infanteria De Marina) began training here July 23 with 3rd Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division to improve foreign relations and allow them to see, firsthand, how U.S. Marines conduct training evolutions.

"We're building cooperation and familiarization with Chilean Marines while we strengthen both cultures.  It also gives them (the Chilean Marines) an opportunity to see how we operate with exercises, classes and tours," said Capt. Ty Edwards from Blountstown, Fla., and the commanding officer of Kilo Company, 3/2.

During their visit here, the Chileans have participated in various types of training to include: helicopter operations, weapons training, rappelling, and fast-roping. They also brushed up on skills in the gas chamber, hand and arm signals, navigation and live-fire obstacle courses. 

Upon completion of their training, they participated in a final exercise at Landing Zone Hawk which enabled them to use all of the skills they learned while here.

After finishing the exercise at LZ Hawk, they took a tour of Quantico, Va., and other various locations around Washington before departing Aug. 8.

Although both Marine Corps are elite fighting forces, equipped with some of their governments' finest equipment, both have their differences that have become evident in the recent training evolutions.

"We use a similar weapon: the HK33, that uses the same ammunition, but has different characteristics," said Chilean Teniente Primero (Capt.) Erwin Mura, company commander for the Chilean Marines. "Yours (U.S. Marine Corps) is bigger, and mine belongs to the Navy, where yours is more individualized. But our tactics are fairly similar because of past exchanges between our two countries."

During the field training at LZ Hawk, the joint forces used Special Effects Small Arms Munitions (SESAM) that enabled small modifications to the M-16A2 service rifle to shoot a 9mm "paint cartridge."  The SESAM allowed a force-on-force environment to train with more realism.  Marines wore protective face shields for the training, and were thankful they did as the paint cartridges started whizzing by.

This bilateral training was a reward for the Chilean Marines.

"We have been "hand-picked" by our government based on our ratings.  We are the outstanding unit and this trip is our award," said Mura.

The training also allowed U.S. Marines to "brush up on their" Spanish.  Some Marines carried translation books while others would listen intently, trying to understand the language.

The Marines who did speak Spanish offered their skills to help assist the language transitions.

"I'm from Honduras where the dialects are very different, but really the same thing when it comes down to the basics.  It's a very unique opportunity to be able to train with the Chileans," said Cpl Jose F. Hernandez, Washington native and machine gunner with 3/2.