Photo Information

Marines from Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 take off from the deck of the Chilean ship, LSDH Sargento Aldea during a training scenario designed to simulate a major natural disaster August 17, 2014, as part of Partnership of the Americas 2014. Representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and the United States are participating in POA 2014 from August 11-22, 2014. This exercise is designed to enhance joint and combined interoperability, increase the combined capability to execute Amphibious Operations, Peace Support Operations, and Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief missions, and further develop strong and lasting relationships the U.S. Marine Corps has established with partner nation’s naval infantries/marine corps.

Photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters

Reserve Marines Participate In Partnership of the Americas 2014 In Support Of MARFORSOUTH

20 Aug 2014 | 1st Lt. Michael Hopkins

Just as the local population evacuates their small beach town, the waves of a tsunami come crashing into their homes. Houses are flooded, windows are shattered, and lives are ruined. Some of the locals could not get to safety in time. There is limited food, water, medical care, and shelter, but there is relief on the horizon. The simulation of these scenarios allows Marines realistic training with partner nations.

Partnership of the Americas 2014 offers solutions to these types of problems that impact the lives of people and their loved ones by focusing attention on immediate response. Like any problem or issue we may face, there are ways to mitigate the consequences and be better prepared when we are called on to provide humanitarian assistance or disaster relief.

From August 11-22 2014, service members from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and the United States participate in a simulated HA/DR operation here in Chile. Throughout the exercise, service members from the eight different nations take part in scenarios that all revolved around providing HA/DR. The culminating event was a scenario driven final exercise which took place in a small beach town, Pichidangui, Chile, 17-18 August.

The final exercise began when Marines from 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, Marine Forces Reserve, were airlifted from the Chilean ship, the LSDH Sargento Aldea, onto a landing zone in Pichidangui via CH-46 Sea Knight Helicopters- which are being utilized in their last operational mission before being retired. The other partner nations were inserted onto a beachhead via zodiac boats.

“We are here trying to build our relationships with the South American Marines so when we get tasked for humanitarian assistance, we can properly communicate with them for our interaction with them,” stated Staff Sgt. Joshua Roe, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, a member of the exercise control, the element whose job is to observe and evaluate the amphibious operations taking place at POA.

Once on shore, the Marines patrolled the surrounding areas and beachheads and continued on to a village built specifically to mimic a fishing town that had been hit by a tsunami or a similar natural disaster.

In the village, role players simulated a scene of chaos. Service members had to control crowds, restore the peace, and triage and evacuate the injured role players simultaneously.

“They (the role players) are making a lot of noise and don’t want to listen to the local government,” stated Chilean LCMDR Claudia Gonzalez, Naval Training Center inspector, who is also part of the EXCON. “In the village, the hospital is completely destroyed. There are patients with fractures and wounds, there are a lot of casualties. Also, people are manifesting against the mayor at city hall.”

Marines are committed to reaching out to all countries in the hemisphere where possible to build strong Military-to-Military ties. By participating in exercises like POA, Marines ensure that the Corps is postured to provide ready and relevant forces to respond to crisis in the Western Hemisphere.

After the FINEX, each country walked away with invaluable lessons learned. “The exercise went really good because most of the objectives were fulfilled during the event. We proved that it is possible to have this kind of combined force for HA/DR operations. It was good to find out how we can work together as a team and use different technologies to operate,” Gonzalez added.

Partnership of the Americas is a part of UNITAS, the largest and oldest U.S. naval exercise in U.S. Southern Command area of focus, the first one having been executed in 1960. The exercise is designed to enhance joint and combined interoperability; increase the combined capability to execute amphibious operations, Peace Support Operations, HA/DR missions, and further develop strong and lasting relationships between the naval infantries and marine corps’ within the Americas.