(Exercise Shatrujeet 06 commenced on 25 October 2006 and was concluded on 02 November 2006)
The Marines and Sailors of Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) returned to the USS Boxer (LHD 4) after participating in Exercise Shatrujeet 06, Belgaum, India for almost two weeks. Shatrujeet, which translates into “victory over our enemies”, was a bilateral training exercise in which Marines of Echo Company trained alongside Soldiers of the 21st Company, Punjab Regiment, Indian Army.
Shatrujeet was designed to improve interoperability and increase awareness between United States and Indian forces. The exercise began on 25 October 2006, as when the Marines were transported ashore by helicopters launched from the USS Boxer and then convoyed nine hours inland to the Indian Army training camp. A tour of all ranges and facilities was conducted, followed by an opening address and presentations on each unit’s history and organizational backgrounds. Morning physical training sessions were also conducted focusing on runs in boots and utilities, obstacle courses and yoga led by soldiers of the 21st Company, Punjab Regiment.
Training with forces of other nations provided a unique opportunity that benefited all participants. According to Captain Scott Huesing, company commander, Echo Co, BLT 2/4, bilateral exercises are important to the readiness of all nations who participate. “Any opportunities that military units have to experience this type of interoperability will only benefit each unit in the end. The experience in and of itself will only bolster that unit’s capability when thrust into a situation where they have to deal with a foreign agency,” explained Captain Huesing. An important aspect of the training, related Captain Huesing, was the opportunity to learn how the Indian Army trains.
Captain Huesing believes that bilateral exercises like ‘Shatrujeet’ serve to make each Marine a better and more well-rounded warrior with broader military awareness outside of their everyday environment. “In the case of Exercise Shatrujeet 06, the fact that Marines and soldiers were able to conduct company-sized operations with minimal preparation and planning, then execute the mission seamlessly, illustrates the point that any well trained, disciplined, professional military unit will be able to execute their assigned missions with confidence, proficiency and a relatively high level of success,” explained Captain Huesing. Each Echo Company platoon was assigned to train with a platoon from the 21st Company throughout the exercise.
The platoons built camaraderie and rapport beginning with rock climbing, rappelling, close combat and Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstrations. Training progressed to combat shooting ranges with fire and movement, and Military Operations in Urban Terrain training in a live fire ‘kill house’ with popup targets. Marines and Indian soldiers also cross-trained on each others’ weapons and fired them for familiarity and proficiency. For 2nd Lieutenant J.J. Grillo, platoon commander, Echo Co, BLT 2/4, the training allowed for the opportunity for team-building, making it possible for his Marines to grow as warriors. “We learned to integrate all aspects of team-building and integration throughout the duration of the exercise. The commonalities that all professional militaries share are the one thing that allows us to accomplish the mission even with the lack of training together for extended periods of time and with cultural and language difference,” said 2nd Lieutenant Grillo.
The forces also received survival training featuring snake handling with cobras, vipers, and rat snakes. The instructors provided hands-on training cleaning and cooking snakes, chickens, crabs and frogs. “The greatest benefit to the Marines working with such international partners like the Indian Army is the confidence gained simply by working together regardless of the amount of time spent together,” said Sergeant Jonathan Espinoza, infantryman, Echo Co, BLT 2/4. “Every military has a different way of working that includes different training, tactics and procedures. The beneficial part of getting to do this with the Indian Army is that we both got to choose the best of both when it came to learning how each of does business,” said Sergeant Espinoza.
Exercise Shatrajeet 06 culminated in a two-day interoperability bi-lateral cordon and search exercise with joint Marine & Indian Army cooperation throughout. Both Marines of Echo Company and soldiers of the 21st Panjub honed their tactics and skills while gaining different perspectives from their counterparts. The Marines of Echo Company departed with improved tactical proficiency and invaluable training experiences garnered by their friends from the 21st Company, Punjab Regiment, Indian Army. “The Marines and Sailors of Echo Company, BLT 2/4 now stand that much more capable in adapting to a situation like this in the future as we push forward ready to conduct our Nation’s business,” said Captain Huesing. Echo Company is the helicopter borne Company for the 15th MEU (SOC), currently deployed as part of Expeditionary Strike Group 5 aboard the USS Boxer (LHD4), USS Dubuque (LPD8) and the USS Comstock (LSD45) and is currently deployed in the Western Pacific.