MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Canadian and New Zealand soldiers partnered with Marines from 1st Tank Battalion to conduct urban warfare training here, July 20.
Dawn Blitz 2013 is a multinational amphibious exercise that promotes interoperability between the Navy and Marine Corps and coalition partners, June 11-28. Participating countries include Canada, Japan, New Zealand and military observers from seven countries.
During the event, soldiers maneuvered through a mock combat town, clearing buildings with the support of M1A1 Abrams tanks providing overwatch on the streets.
Participating units included 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment, Canadian Army, based in Quebec, and 2nd 1st Battalion, New Zealand Royal Infantry Regiment, based at Burnham Camp, South Island.
Marines with 1st Tank Battalion introduced their vehicles to Canadian and New Zealand infantry units, and explained their procedures for moving through urban terrain.
Constant communication and vigilance is essential to spot enemy forces and protect tanks, said Sgt. Efrain Gonzalez, Jr., a tank platoon sergeant serving with 1st Tank Battalion.
When working together with the infantry, tanks provide powerful and instant fire support for the troops on the ground. Their powerful 120 mm main gun can blast holes through walls and allow infantrymen to maneuver through obstacles with ease.
New Zealand Army Maj. John M. Lawrey said most of his troops have never worked with tanks before, and were excited for the chance to work alongside the Marines during the assault.
Lawrey, company commander with 2/1st Bn., and a native of Christchurch, New Zealand, said he worked with Abrams tanks while training with the Australian Army and gained an appreciation for its capabilities.
"It's got the fire power, protection and mobility that can definitely help us out up front in supporting us, taking out hard points and really brining a lot of additional firepower to our fight," said Lawrey.
While strong and resilient to fire, tanks are vulnerable without infantry support because of their lack of vision, especially in the rear and flanks, said Gonzalez.
In urban terrain, multiple story buildings expose the tanks to fire from above. In order to protect the tanks, the infantry watch the tanks' blind spots, provide vision around walls and clear buildings of enemies, said Gonzalez, a native of Roma, Texas.
Both Canadian and New Zealand forces maneuvered through the urban assault course seamlessly as they employed their own tactics for clearing buildings and moving through streets. As the infantry cleared buildings, Marine tanks provided security and slowly maneuvered through the town.
The exercise was beneficial for the Canadian soldiers, said Canadian Army Lt. Daniel J. Brideau, a platoon commander with 2nd Bn., 22nd Royal Regiment. The training helped build relationships among the troops and was essential to preparing for future operations.
"I thinking it's really important to strengthen our relationship, seeing as we might deploy as a unified force," said Brideau, a native of Tracadie - Sheila, New Brunswick. "We can learn to work together in training before we actually get deployed somewhere else."