CAMP PENDLETON, CALIFORNIA --
Two nations separated by over 8,000 miles, spanning across two oceans, with different cultures and time zones, brought together by our collective bond of military service. Our differences melted away and friendships solidified over two weeks of intense and realistic training. In the amphibious and mountainous terrain of Camp Pendleton, Singapore Guardsmen and U.S. Marines strengthened bonds, increased interoperability, and celebrated the partnership between our nations.
The 1st Guards Battalion, 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade, Singapore Armed Forces alongside 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted Valiant Mark 23 at Camp Pendleton, CA, from 7-21 Oct. The training included various subject matter expert exchanges, live-fire ranges, a staff planning exercise, and an amphibious assault exercise.
The subject matter expert exchanges included snipers, mortars, indirect fires and fire support coordination, combat engineers, anti-tank, unmanned aerial systems, and medical exchanges. The purpose of this phase of training was to exchange tactical knowledge from both forces, improving standard operating procedures and meshing capabilities. “The main thing we learned from the SAF is how they employ their 120mm mortar system,” explained 1st Lt. Liam O’Connell, 81mm mortar platoon commander, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. “The Marine Corps does not use this type of mortar, so it was interesting to learn how they moved around the battlefield with such a large weapon system and how they are able to support their infantry units.” Ultimately, this tactical-level training enhances interoperability of our forces if called upon to respond to challenges within the Indo-Pacific region.
The knowledge and tactics exchanged during the subject matter expert exchanges was applied during a live-fire, fires exercise and a rifle company live-fire range. During the fires exercise, Guardsmen and Marines practiced close air support with a UH-1Y Huey and AH-1Z Cobra section from HMLA-267, indirect fires from the 81mm mortar platoon, and fires support coordination with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company. “The SAF Strike Observer Mission (STORM) teams were most excited about integrating multiple fire support assets into a combined arms solution,” mentioned Capt Ari Kirschbaum, special projects officer, 1st ANGLICO. “Typically, they do not integrate mortars, artillery, naval gunfire, and multiple sections of close air support platforms at the same time. They were eager to learn how we leverage fire support assets to increase the dilemma for the enemy.” The rifle company live-fire range consisted of integrating Guardsmen and Marines through a course of live fire that improved their small-arms tactics and developed a practical understanding of U.S. Marine Corps maneuver warfare doctrine.
Concurrently to the subject matter expert exchanges, staff from the 13th MEU, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, and 1st Guards Battalion conducted a week-long staff planning exercise where a bilateral amphibious operation was planned. The staff planning exercise was executed at the unclassified level so our Singaporean partners could be fully involved. Since amphibious warfighting was a focus of this year’s Valiant Mark, the planning exercise was based on a fictional scenario that required the application of Marine Corps amphibious operations. “Our Singapore partners were most interested in the command relationship between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” conveyed Maj. Jonathan Turello, assistant operations officer, 13th MEU. “The synchronized coordination between the Navy and Marine Corps commanders, also known as the Commander Amphibious Task Force (CATF) and Commander Landing Force (CLF), during amphibious operations is the quintessential example of naval integration.” The staff planning exercise was a critical part of Valiant Mark 23, that made interoperability improvement transcendent from the planners to the executers.
The culminating event of Valiant Mark 23 was the amphibious assault exercise where U.S. Marines and Singapore Guardsmen executed the bilateral amphibious operation that was planned during the staff planning exercise. This amphibious assault exercise included the seizure of two inland objectives with two, reinforced companies from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines and one company from 1st Guards Battalion. “The successful assault of the objective as a combined force was particularly satisfying and memorable,” expressed Cpt Dominic Miller, commanding officer, Charlie Company, 1 Guards Battalion. “This proved that within a short duration of only two weeks, both our forces were able to work together, coordinate our various assets and capture an objective successfully.” Through realistic training with our Singaporean partners, we are better postured to sustain our shared vision of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Throughout Valiant Mark 23, we enhanced overall interoperability and developed long-lasting relationships that are echoed by our strong partnership between our nations. “One of the most important aspects of Valiant Mark are the personal connections made throughout the exercise,” said Col. Stuart Glenn, commanding officer, 13th MEU. “This is my third Valiant Mark and I still keep in contact with my Singaporean friends, and these personal connections enable interoperability with the SAF. This year’s Valiant Mark was a huge success and I look forward to future iterations of bilateral training with our Singaporean partners.” Through routine and frequent training with the SAF, we will continue to improve our interoperability, strengthen our partnership, and be better prepared to respond to challenges we may face together in the Indo-Pacific region.