ANCON, Peru -- For two weeks, three Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor-trainers attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 24 have trained Peruvian Marines daily in not only technique, but the disciplines behind the MCMAP program.
Although a short period of time was allotted, the Marines filled it with as much training as possible. These seasoned trainers quickly found that their technical skill was matched by the Peruvians’ strong enthusiasm and healthy thirst for knowledge.
"The opportunity to meet and train with the Peruvians, as well as their unsurpassed motivation, good attitude and strong spirit, has been a testament to their loyalty. I feel I've made lifelong friends here,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron W. Schneider of Cadillac, Mich., a Martial Arts Instructor and Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
The Peruvians have some of the same need for close combat as our Marines in North America; however, many of the threats that they will be dealing with differ from the current ones that we face. Because of those differences, the instructors had to come up with a simple, yet worthwhile program for their hosts.
The concept of the total warrior being a moral leader as well as a physical one was something new to most of the Peruvians. This became a pivotal part of the training, and many times the Marines would stay after sessions ended, conversing about what makes a true leader.
"We didn't really know what to expect, so we developed a program tailored to their demands that was useful for them. We were really surprised with the caliber of Marines we worked with - physically phenomenal, with a real hunger for learning and motivation through the roof,” said Staff Sgt. Willy D. Carrion, a Martial Arts Instructor from Puerto Rico, stationed at the Martial Arts Center of Excellence in Quantico, Va.
"They were very humble and open-minded, but all they expected out of the training was strictly martial arts. We focused a lot on character and leadership, and how that is a big part of our program as well as a big part of the total warrior. It was something that they weren't used to, and they admitted it gave them a lot to think about,” added Carrion.
Another important goal was making the training hard and challenging, since the Peruvian Marines were extremely motivated and ready to meet the tough demands that would come up. There were long, strenuous exercises and drills over the techniques learned, fast-paced formation runs, and intense obstacle course workouts. The intent was to make the techniques second nature to the students and ensure that they wouldn't soon forget them.
The goal of bringing the forces closer was met quickly, as Marines felt like part of a family, just days into the training. From the beginning the Peruvians were outgoing, and tried to make the instructors feel welcome. Once it was clear that everyone was there to train and willing to give it their all, a strong sense of respect and understanding began to rise up.
Even though the Marines didn't exactly all speak the same language, the Marine brotherhood was alive and well. While the relationships formed between these men in this short period of time seem nothing short of extraordinary, Capt. Matthew Murray of Lighthouse Point, Fla., a Martial Arts Instructor with 2nd ANGLICO out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., gave a simple rationale.
"They're a group of tough, determined Marines that I would seek to fight with. Just from the past two weeks, from what I've seen, I would be glad to fight alongside these men anywhere."