WESTERN EGYPTIAN DESERT -- The gathering of military personnel representing Egypt, the United States and the Netherlands set the stage for joint coalition training that took place across the barren landscape here Sept. 20.
Before providing an emphatic demonstration of the firepower the 13th Marine Expeditionary Force (Special Operations Capable) brings to the battlefield, low-altitude air defense gunners with Marine Air Control Group 38-- a component of the Air Combat Element of the 13th MEU, gave a comprehensive overview of their equipment and procedures to a group of host nation officers and Dutch air defense soldiers.
Staff Sgt. Shane E. Lamont, low-altitude air defense gunner, MACG-38, 13th MEU (SOC), explained that the Stinger is a man-portable, shoulder-fired guided missile system, which enables the shooter to effectively engage low-altitude jets, propeller-driven and rotary-wing aircraft.
The Salt Lake City, Utah, native also mentioned that the missile system is a weapon that utilizes heat-seeking capabilities, as well as a proportional navigational system to track down its airborne targets.
Following a detailed briefing and a question-and-answer session, those in attendance were treated to a display of accuracy and devastation.
Firing at radio-controlled MiG-23 Bandits, the 13th MEU Marines successfully destroyed each of the unmanned aerial vehicle target drones in a fiery exhibition that saw the Stinger gunners proclaiming victory after achieving a perfect five-for-five shooting percentage.
When the smoke cleared and the dust settled on the sweltering range, many of the foreign service members who witnessed the proceedings were positively impacted by the evolution.
“I was truly happy to be able to observe the demonstration the Marines put on,” said Egyptian Army Brig.Gen. Kamal Hussieny, air defense commander, Northern Military Zone. “I am glad that they are getting their training (during Bright Star) and I thank them for coming to Egypt.”
Other coalition leaders saw the advantages of observing the training as well.
“My battle group was scheduled to attend this affiliation training to work with the U.S. because it helps us experience how they do things,” stated Netherlands Army Capt. Mark Van Den Broek, deputy company commander, 2nd Air Defense Company, 11th Air Mobile Brigade. “It prepares us, because the Netherlands is so small, we almost always work with U.S. or European forces (during conflicts). Hopefully in the future we can train together with the Marines again,” remarked the native of Arnhem, Netherlands.
In addition to demonstrating their proficiency and warfighting capability, the 13th MEU (SOC) leathernecks also gained new admirers of the image they have become world renown for.
“This was my first time seeing them in action and I was very impressed by the U.S. Marines,” emphasized Egyptian Army Capt. Amr Anany. “They are highly trained, highly disciplined and extremely motivated.”
According to Capt. Mark W. Micke, detachment officer-in-charge, MACG-38, training with other countries at Bright Star provided his Marines with tangible benefits.
“First of all, training with other countries is great because we don’t get to do it all the time and in today’s world we know we’ll be fighting alongside our allies. Training in a realistic desert environment is also an advantage because it prepares us in regards to facing any type of desert threat,” said the Cottage Grove, Minn., native.
After receiving numerous complements from foreign military observers following a flawless performance from his Stinger gunners, Micke seemed assured that his troops were up to any challenge.
“It’s a good feeling to know that we have training that other countries are interested in and that we set the stage for the world to follow,” he said. “Performing the way we did today gives both my Marines and the MEU commander confidence we are ready to go if we ever get sent into combat.”