CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marine combat engineers with Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conducted joint training exercises with New Zealand soldiers from the Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers at Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 25-26.
The two forces conducted improved ribbon bridge training, utilizing equipment still new to the Marines of 7th ESB. The Marines first began training with the improved ribbon bridge in February and have since become familiar with its functions and capabilities.
“It’s an opportunity for them to see how we put this bridge together,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Guillen, operations platoon sergeant with Bridge Co., 7th ESB. “They get to see the capabilities that we have here in the Marine Corps.”
New Zealand 2nd Lt. Cameron Allen, troop commander of 2 Field Troop, 2 Field Squadron, 2 Engineer Regiment said the troops can utilize such training when working with the Royal Australian Army because they train with similar equipment.
The improved ribbon bridge gives Marines the capability to support transportation of heavy military loads across rivers and small bodies of water. The bridge has the ability to cross waters with currents of approximately eight feet per second and banks up to two meters in height. Marines and NZ soldiers also spent a day working together to construct a bridge on dry land.
The training is part of a month-long training exercise, called Galvanic Kiwi, a U.S. Marine Corps and New Zealand Army training exchange designed to enhance interoperability and foster military-to-military relations between the U.S. and New Zealand. The exercise encourages the exchange of views and fosters shared experience between the two forces.
“The concept behind it is that we can come over here and learn how to operate better overseas on peacekeeping missions and give us a better idea of how [Marines] operate, learn some things and, hopefully, [Marines] can learn some things from us as well,” Allen said.
The exercise kicked off June 15 and marks a reengagement after more than 25 years since the U.S. suspended Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty obligations with New Zealand. Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and NZ Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman signed a defense cooperation agreement at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. to expand the defense relationship.
Before the NZ engineers arrived at Camp Pendleton, they completed up urban combat training with 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. While New Zealand soldiers trained with Marines at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms, Marines with 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, deployed to New Zealand to conduct joint training operations there.