POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii -- Soldiers of the 7th Royal Australian Regiment and the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to the Pohakuloa Training Area on May 10 for a month long combined training exercise as part of the Theatre Security Cooperation Program.

The Soldiers from both militaries executed multiple missions including squad and platoon based live fire exercises as well as training on infantry tactics and communication in a combined environment.

"Throughout the exercise we've been conducting squad size tactical scenarios," said Cpl. Jareth Merriman, a squad leader with the 7th Royal Australian Regiment. "This includes movement with mounted assets and maneuver support teams."

"Training opportunities such as this are very eye opening for a lot of our troops," said Lt. Ben Carbis, a platoon commander with the 7th RAR. "The training and resources available to us here have helped us improve tenfold."

Combined exercises such as this present unique opportunities for Soldiers to interact with allied militaries in the region. This presents new challenges and learning opportunities for the Soldiers of both militaries.

"Partnering with the Australians had some unforeseen benefits," said Capt. John Staeheli, commander of Alpha Company, 1-14 Inf. Regt. "Motivation goes up and they learn more because not only are they practicing but they are teaching their Australian counterparts and learning how the Australians do things."

"Working together we have identified the differences between standard operating procedures were able to utilize each other's capabilities to plug any gaps," Carbis said.
"I'm very comfortable with the Partnership that USARPAC and the 25th Infantry Division have taken on by asking us to execute the Theater Security Cooperation Plan," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Larsen, commander of the 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Regt.

Training at PTA has allowed both militaries to expand their capabilities in movement and deployment operations while strengthening interoperability between the two Pacific Partners.

"The complex terrain is a lot different than what we've experienced in Australia," Carbis said. "It's been an interesting experience, everything from planning to terrain analysis, and has opened up excellent training opportunities."

"We can develop a lasting partnership over time," Staeheli said. "The hardship conditions experienced while working with each other in simulated combat scenarios brings Soldiers together and creates a much tighter partnership at the Soldier and leader levels."

A strong partnership with allies in the Pacific is critical to continued security operations in the region. Training such as this allows the forces of each military to develop lasting relationships with each other that will in turn make deployment operations more successful.

"Interoperability is incredibly critical," Larsen said. "Even though our infantry tactics are similar, they are equally dissimilar. We need to be able to understand how they fight, as they need to understand how we fight. We've been able to educate the leaders in both militaries on how we operate."

"The Americans have a lot of experience throughout the ranks and working with you is becoming a piece of cake," said Merriman.

The Theatre Security Cooperation Program will strengthen ties between the allied militaries in the Pacific region and facilitate future combined operations and training. The results of this program will be a stronger allied force in the region prepared to work together in combined operations to ensure the security of the region.

"When we leave PTA, we won't see this as the end, this is the beginning. We will take what we've done here and we're going to continue to get better," said Staeheli.

"I'm extremely proud of the way the Soldiers have handled themselves," Larsen said. "The flexibility and initiative they've shown to be able to get the most out of the training that they are given is outstanding."