MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A normal training day for the 3rd Battalion Singapore Guards would be patrolling through the heavily wooded jungles their homelands sweating under the midday sun. But for the past few days, the guardsmen donned cold weather gear to fend off pouring rain as they conducted live-fire familiarization training among the hills of Camp Pendleton, Dec. 1.
From Dec. 1 to Dec. 3 the guardsmen trained with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Marines and guardsmen conducted squad and platoon sized assaults on enemy objectives as part of Exercise Valiant Mark 2012. They also learned the functions of the Marine heavy machine gun weapon systems and employed them on a live-fire range here.
“Valiant Mark is a bilateral exercise between the United States Marine Corps and Singapore Guards that happens every year in which we train side by side and exchange tactics,” said Lt. Col. Jason Perry, the commanding officer of 2nd Bn., 5th Marines.
In a typical combat operation, Marines and guardsmen close with and destroy their enemy by fire, maneuver and close combat to accomplish their mission.
This familiarization training allowed both units to refresh their basic infantry skills and tactics, said Capt. Jordan Jones, the Fox Co. commander.
“The training benefits the guardsmen because they get to take advantage of the vast training grounds of Camp Pendleton,” said Jones, a native of New Orleans. “It is also beneficial to us because we are able to learn from each other’s culture, as well as tactics, techniques and procedures.”
During the training, some Marines noticed certain similarities between their own strategies and those of their Singaporean counterparts.
“It surprised me how similar their tactics were to ours,” said Sgt. Tim Davis, a squad leader serving with Fox Co. “They moved to engage the enemy together, and their section leader controlled his section just as experienced squad leaders control their squads.”
The guardsmen have great small unit leaders just like the Marines, said Davis, a 28-year-old native of Enfield, Conn. They have adapted to the training environment and are now improving their communication and the speed at which they engage enemy targets on the range.
“We have never been to a range like this one before,” said Sgt. King Chi, a section leader serving with 3rd Bn. Singapore Guards. “We are becoming more accustomed to the terrain and weather. We are very excited about being here and working alongside the Marines.”
Davis said when he first met the guardsmen he thought they looked like a unit that had been together for years. They moved and communicated like experienced warfighters.
“The guardsmen are very professional warriors,” said Davis. “I could tell they love their jobs, and they wanted to be here training with us. Something I want my Marines to learn from the guardsmen is their professionalism.”
The Marine battalion recently returned home from a deployment in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where they conducted counterinsurgency operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Chi said the guardsmen aim to learn as much as they can from the combat-hardened Marines.
“Marines are very experienced in combat,” Chi said. “I think the guardsmen can learn a lot from them. It is a great opportunity to be able to train with them.”
The guardsmen have not deployed or fought in combat recently. The experiences of the Marines can give them insight on how they can train to improve overall combat effectiveness, Chi added.
“We are all warriors,” Davis said. “We work well together because we both joined to fight for our countries.”
Valiant Mark is being conducted in conjunction with Steel Knight, an annual exercise designed to train the 1st Marine Division for deployment as the ground combat element of a Marine air-ground task force. The focus of the exercise is to ensure that 1st Marine Division is fully prepared to deploy as an expeditionary force across the range of military operations and is capable of responding to any crisis across the world.