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U.S. Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion and British soldiers rehearse combat scenarios at a Digital Combat Simulator in Edinburgh, U.K., Nov. 4, 2015. The scenario helped service members practice their shooting, communication and decision making skills to better prepare them for real life confrontations, and ultimately enhance interoperability. The forces conducted Exercise Phoenix Odyssey II which helped increase joint intelligence operations and military skills. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Erick Galera/Released)

Photo by Pfc. Erick Galera

U.S. Marines, British Army conclude Exercise Phoenix Odyssey II

11 Nov 2015 | Lance Cpl. Erick Galera II Marine Expeditionary Force

U.S. Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion and British soldiers concluded an intelligence exercise between the two nations Nov. 6, 2015.

Bringing both forces together for the second consecutive year, Exercise Phoenix Odyssey II was designed to build on joint intelligence operations and further develop the relationships started in 2014.

“The first iteration was more about sharing what technology we had and what techniques, tactics and procedures we brought to the table,” said Marine 1st Lt. Joseph Ryan, a signals intelligence officer with 2nd Intelligence Battalion. “This exercise was more about working in tandem for a potential real world scenario.”

“During Phoenix Odyssey I, we didn’t meet our American counterparts until later in the exercise, which didn’t give us enough time to know who we were working with at a social level,” said British Army Cpl. Robert Heeges, an intelligence analyst participating in EPO II. “This time we were integrated from day one, and I think that had the biggest impact on allowing us to work more closely together.”

The two-week exercise enabled the forces to continue fine-tuning the processes vital for possible contingencies.

“We tried to find some middle ground on determining what kind of intelligence both the British and the U.S. Marines could find that was comprehensive and both sides could understand,” said Ryan.

Both forces have worked together in theater before, and as dangerous scenarios develop throughout the world, EPO II provided a unique opportunity to learn, understand and practice common tactics, techniques and procedures to ultimately reach the same goal.

“Our countries have a long history of working together,” said Heeges. ”Although we have standardized practices, there are still some differences in the ways we work, and this kind of exercise gives us an excellent opportunity to outline those differences and get accustomed to how we work.”

Hoping to build from a successful exercise, both forces are looking forward to enhance the experience and involve more elements into it, said Ryan.

“The intent is for EPO to continue to grow while incorporating other intelligence apparatuses within II Marine Expeditionary Force as well as some of the active duty British Armed Forces,” said Ryan.