MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- When the C-17 Globemaster III descended on to the expeditionary airfield here there was a green blur as Marines prepared for its arrival. Flak jackets and helmets were lined up and ready. The Marines of Delta Company, 3rd AAV Battalion received their final brief at their vehicles and Combat Center Chief of Staff Col. James R. Braden and Lt. Col. Hal Sellers, operations officer for Operations and Training directorate waited to properly greet the men.
Defense attachés representing 41 countries debarked the plane and received a brief on the day’s events. Grabbing flaks and helmets, the high-ranking officers boarded the AAVs while the Marines prepared to move out.
As part of their tour of U.S. military facilities, the attaches visited the Combat Center Friday.
“The purpose of the visit was to expose them to American military bases and show them how we do business and while they are here, show off the Marine Corps,” said Sellers. “It also gives them a chance to see other parts of the U.S. and expose them to American culture.”
During their stay they will visit many bases in the area. They flew in from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. From the Combat Center they will go to San Diego and to get a taste of the Navy, and then they will go to Camp Pendleton, said Sellers.
As the AAVs moved out from the airfield to the Delta training area, the attachés stood up on the benches of the AAVs in order to look out of the vehicles for much of the bumpy ride.
Upon arriving at the training area the attachés received a brief from Lt. Col. Mark LaClair, deputy director, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group and Master Sgt. Paul VanWormer, logistics chief/combat service support chief, about the convoy operations course. Although they were not given a live-fire demonstration of the course, they were instructed on how the training is conducted here.
“It was very instructional, informative and good fun,” said Capt. Bill Garner, Australian navy chief of staff. “I enjoyed riding on the AAVs, and it gave me even more respect for the Marines than I had before. We also got some insight into some of the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Rear Admiral Bertil Bjorkman, Swedish navy, enjoyed the instruction as well.
“I’m sorry we missed the live fire because of technicalities, but most of us know what Marines do,” he said. “We all know the situation in Iraq, and I like to see how they adapt their tactics through their training.”
There was also a lot of interaction going on between the attachés and the AAV crews.
“One very interesting part of this was being able to meet the Marines and see how proud they are to be a Marine,” said Bjorkman. “It’s very motivating.”
After boarding the AAVs and arriving at the rifle range, the attachés were met by buses that took them to the Officers’ Club for lunch and a command brief.
After lunch they were taken on a tour of the enhanced equipment allowance pool followed by another trip to the rifle range where they were given a demonstration and practical application shoot in the Indoor Simulate Marksmanship Trainer.
“Most of these guys don’t get a chance to do stuff like that because they are so high in rank,” said Sellers. “It was probably the highlight of the day for them. It really looked like they were enjoying themselves at the ISMT.”
Upon completion of the practical application at the ISMT the attachés were taken back to the airfield where they departed for San Diego.
While the attachés were here there was one thing that the Marines tried to emphasize more than anything else.
“We wanted them to leave knowing that this is where we do combined arms exercises,” said Sellers. “We combine all of the elements. This is the one place where we bring all the elements together. That is what makes this place unique.”