By Master Sgt. Cohen A. YoungApril 11, 2011
CLARK FIELD, Philippines - U.S. Marines from Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan familiarized members of the Philippine Air Force with weapons in the United States. arsenal on April 7 in support of Exercise Balikatan 2011.
More than 40 U.S. Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 4, Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan trained members of the Philippine Air Force on the use of the M-203 grenade launcher and the Mossberg 500 Shotgun.
"The training has gone well," said 1st Lt. David M. Beehler, the officer in charge from CLB-4. "Our Philippine counterparts are very active in it, and it\'s been a great opportunity build on the friendship between our two forces."
CLB-4 is always on alert and frequently travels to many exercises within the Pacific, but Balikatan offers more than a training event, because the two forces are shoulder-to-shoulder for majority of the training.
"This training not only helps our training, but it helps our allies and our friend's training, so that we are all better prepared together when working with one another," added Beehler, a native of Tucson, Ariz. Many of the Phililppine Airmen had never used the M-203 or the Moss Berg shotgun, so it was good for them to familiarize themselves with the weapon.
"This is our first time to have this type of weapons training, and we are very thankful for the opportunity," said 1st Lt. Jesse Glyn Garacruz, of the 770th Combat Support Squadron, 70th Special Operations Wing, Philippine Air Force. "In my five years of serving in the Philippine Air Force, we have not used this type of weapon because we've been training in crowd dispersal, which deals with shields and batons and not weapons like these," added Garacruz.
For many of the Philippine Airmen, this was a great opportunity to work with the U.S. Marines, which may not happen often.
"For my experience, it has been great working with the U.S. Marines because we've been able to pass information along to one another, and I look forward to attending Balikatan again in the coming years," Garacruz said.
For some of the Marines, this was an opportunity to unload and shoot a few rounds while others looked at the training as an opportunity to pass the knowledge on.
"I've taught more than 150 classes to foreign forces," Logistics Specialist Cpl. William McDougall, a native of Columbia, Ky. "I really like teaching people, and this is a great opportunity to foster or maintain relationships."
"I enjoy working with foreign services and the Philippine Airmen have been great because they ask a lot of questions, and I have questions as well," McDougall said. "When we exchange information like that, we learn a lot from one another and that's what this exercise is all about."
This is the 27th exercise in the Balikatan series and serves as opportunity for bilateral training that is vital to maintaining readiness capabilities for both the U.S. and the Philippine armed forces. The exercise runs from April 5-15 in various places in the Philippines. Events included in the exercise will consist of cross training in interoperability field exercises, explosive ordnance disposal, a command post exercise and multiple medical, dental, veterinary and engineering action projects.