Elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), began conducting Exercise Eastern Maverick 2009, alongside Qatari military forces on March 28, a bilateral training exercise designed to build and improve cooperation between both military forces.
During the exercise, U.S. Marines and Sailors will work alongside the Qatari military for approximately two weeks, conducting a number of training exercises, to include small-unit vehicle training and live-fire exercises, as well as pilot training with the Qatari Air Force.
Lt. Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/1 assigned to the 13th MEU, said he looks forward to the operating with the Qatari military during the exercise.
“Exercises like this one provide important opportunities for us to work more closely together with our friends in the region, thereby helping to enhance understanding, security and stability throughout the Middle East,” he said. “Understanding and communication are vital to a strong friendship, and these exercises are an excellent opportunity for us to further develop both of these with our Qatari friends.”
The first day of the exercise consisted of several classes covering sniper training, grenade handling and the use of a Global Positioning System. Each subsequent day will build upon the skills learned from earlier days.
“They picked it up quickly,” said 1st Lt. Jesus S. Mendez, platoon commander with Combined Anti Armor Team 2, Weapons Company, BLT 1/1. “It was a good opportunity to work with the Qataris to see how our friends operate.”
The exercise also allows opportunities for athletic interaction and competition between the two nations. U.S. Marines and Sailors participated in a friendly game of volleyball on the first night of the exercise with several Qataris.
“We should do this every time during exercises – it builds unity and friendship,” said Staff Sgt. Steve D. Oldham, 3rd platoon sergeant for Company B, BLT 1/1. “This helps strengthen relationships with our host nation, which is important.”
“I think it was a great game,” said Pfc. Abdul Rahman, a rocketman in the Qatari Amiri Land Forces. “This created a good team environment for the upcoming training between us and the Marines.”
The 13th MEU is embarked aboard Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) ships deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to conduct Maritime Security Operations.