ANCON, Peru --
Clouds of sand filled the air as two MV-22 Ospreys descended to insert Marines and Sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South for their final theater security cooperation event Aug. 30.
In Peru, the Marines and Sailors primarily focused on bi-lateral exchanges in military tactics and participated in a sporting event with their Peruvian counterparts.
Marines with the SPMAGTF participated in a bi-lateral marksmanship exchange over a three-day period. During that time, the Peruvians shared their weapons and patrolling tactics and provided the SPMAGTF the opportunity to have hands-on training with their weapons systems.
“The first day they were showing us how they run things,” said Cpl. Benjamin Nalls, assault section squad leader with SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Stevensville, Mont. “We were able to get hands-on experience and actually shoot their weapons.”
Halfway through the exchange, the U.S. Marines were able to share their tactics in return, working weapons handling and running multiple range exercises. The exchange left a lasting impression, even changing their perspective of their Peruvian partners.
“I told one the of the team leaders that I am fully confident and would be proud to fight next to him,” said Sgt. Jacey Marks, a range instructor with SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Lewiston, Idaho. “I had no idea these guys were this good. I think they are formidable and are a good ally.”
A bi-lateral medical exchange was conducted during the TSC, as well. Like with the rifle range, the Peruvians and SPMAGTF performed an exchange of basic medical aid tactics.
“We have been going over basic first aid techniques,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Clarence Perry, U.S. Navy hospital corpsman with SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Franklin, Va. “They have been exchanging information with us. It has become like a common bond together, mixing it both up accomplishing the same goal of saving lives.”
The Peruvian Marines provided a unique environment for the practical application portion of the medical exchange.
“We planned on conducting CLS with the Peruvian Marine Corps just like we did in Brazil and Colombia,” said Petty Officer First Class Gabriel Besa, U.S. Navy hospital corpsman with SPAMGTF-South, and a native of Pearland, Texas. “This time around, they had some buildings that we used, providing more real-time scenarios like mass casualties. We were able to go over how to treat the kind of injuries that they might encounter.”
Once training was complete for the day, the U.S. and Peruvian Marines spent some time bonding through their love for sports.
“They asked us if we would like to do any events with them,” said Cpl. Christopher J. Moore, a combat correspondent with SPMAGTF-South. “They suggested soccer. At first, we were a little rusty, but after a while, we got the hang of it and were able to put up a competition with them. We ended up tying the game 7 to 7, and overall we had a great time.”
Whether it was sending rounds down range, applying a tourniquet or shooting a goal, the Peruvian and U.S. Marines approached the TSC with the same mission to accomplish.
“They build a close relationship really fast,” Nalls said. “The Peruvian Marines were all about it. They were ready to get in and wanted to train with us to see what we were all about and we were the same. It was a good experience.”
With the final TSC behind them, the Marines and Sailors of SPAMGTF-South are San Diego bound for the ship’s home port. The SPMAGTF is embarked aboard America in support of her maiden transit, “America Visits the Americas.” The transit has demonstrated the unparalleled capabilities that the Navy-Marine Corps team provides our nation and partners.