GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (January 21, 2009) - For most young Soldiers joining the military can be a first step on the road to independence.

For some shipping off to basic training is their first real separation from the comfort and warmth of family.

For 88 members of the Netherland Royal Marine Corps however, shipping off to basic training meant not only leaving family behind but their country as well. These young recruits were put through their paces during two weeks of basic training held at the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr Germany.

Although basic Soldiering courses are not regularly offered at JMTC, the Marine Training Center provided their own instructors and opted to utilize the Grafenwoehr Training Area (GTA) to conduct basic training for two reasons. The first reason being, training space for live-fire exercises.

"We have very limited ranges in Holland," said 1st Lieutenant Charles Kooiman, group's officer in charge of recruit training. "Grafenwoehr allows us to train recruits on all forms of weaponry."

Kooiman said holding basic training at JMTC's Grafenwoehr Training Area has allowed recruits to train with the four basic forms of small arms they will encounter during their career, including rifles, grenades and heavy machine guns.

Instructors also utilized GTA's wooded terrain to teach incoming Marines the basics of land navigation and map reading.

Marines are put through an extensive physical training program while at GTA that has some unique differences to the program of their U.S. counterparts. In addition to running, marching and muscle conditioning, Marine instructors incorporate leisure activities into their program such as swimming and mountain biking.

"This allows the recruits to have fun and stay in shape," Kooiman explained.

According to Kooiman, the second reason for coming to GTA was the ability to house troops in barracks rather than the private rooms they live in at home. Living under one roof provided more opportunities for Soldiers to work together and get to know their brothers-in-arms.

"Living together here helps promote unit cohesion," Kooiman said. "Here they learn how to take care of their buddies as well as themselves."

Kooiman also said that JMTC has allowed the recruits to see how their coalition allies operate as well as the U.S. assets available to them for training.

"The support from JMTC has been wonderful," said 1st Lieutenant Mike Stout the officer in charge of coordinating training. "Every little bump we have hit during this rotation JMTC has been there with a solution."

"In every aspect on this post you see support to the training units," Kooiman added. "If there is a problem, it is not a problem, JMTC solves it very quickly."

For one recruit in particular, training at JMTC will be an experience he will carry with him throughout his entire career.

Jess Wattimena, who at 25-years-old calls himself the oldest recruit in the course said he has experienced things here he never thought he would be able to.

"Getting to fire all the weapons we will use was great," he said. "and being around the American Soldiers and the other foreign troops is something I will take with me forever."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16