IQUIQUE, Chile -- Anxious to measure their own marksmanship tactics and techniques against that of the Chilean Marine Corps, Marines of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 24 conducted live-fire training this week on a range near Punta Gruesa, Chile, home of Destacamento de Infanteria de Marina (DIM) Lynch.
The ground combat element of SPMAGTF 24 prepared a modified Enhanced Marksmanship Program that incorporated DIM Lynch Marines into the training. This allowed Marines to shoot side by side with their counterparts, and was a welcome development for the grunts from F Company of 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, and Security Detachment, Headquarters Company, 24th Marine Regiment. In addition to firing their own rifles, the Chileans took turns familiarizing themselves with the M16A2 service rifle and M9 Beretta pistol.
“It was productive,” said Lance Cpl. Paul T. Wolfgramm of Milwaukee, Wis., where 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines is headquartered. “We trained well with the Chileans, particularly when they got to fire and learn about our weapons. They figured it out pretty fast.”
“They seemed to really enjoy not just firing our weapons, but learning about our tactics,” added Lance Cpl. Michael G. Waisner of Headquarters Co., 24th Marines. “I wish we had a chance to see how similar or dissimilar our approach to fire and maneuver is from theirs,” said the Lawrence, Kan., native.
Comprised of elements of 24th Marine Regiment and attached augments from the Reserve Component, SPMAGTF 24 is itself a cohesive unit formed from many parts. The ground combat element follows that pattern, drawing Marines from both 2/24 and HQ Co., 24th Marines. The unusual location for an annual training, near the northern port city of Iquique, leaves many of them thirsty for more exercises in partnership.
“If we had the opportunity, I’d definitely do it again. I think (the Chilean Marines) enjoyed the training as much as we did, and in the end, both sides learned a lot about each other,” said Lance Cpl. Pat Vanderwaal of Kiel, Wis., a rifleman with 2/24.
On the range to observe the training was Brig. Gen. John M. Croley, commander, Marine Corps Forces South. Croley was meeting with the command of Chile’s Fourth Naval Zone, the higher headquarters for DIM Lynch, and scheduled time at the ‘EMP shoot’ as part of his visit. These Marines are operating under Marine Forces South in support of Partnership of the Americas 2007, an annual exercise conducted in South America in order to enhance regional security and cooperation among nations of the Western Hemisphere.