In January of 2008, Fox Company 2/4 deployed to Okinawa, Japan to attach to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) as the Battalion Landing Team. Once again, I found myself back in Okinawa as a member of the Boat Company. While in Okinawa, I continued regular and daily training of my Rifle Squad. After a variety of short training exercises, we boarded the ships, this time we were on the USS Harpers Ferry. Our float was to consist of a journey to the islands of the Philippines. We were to conduct Operation Balabac, which was a combination of training the Philippine Marines, as well as conducting humanitarian operations on the island of Balabac.
After arriving there, I was tasked to develop a simple course of Training in general Infantry Tactics, Techniques, and procedures to cycle through with a platoon of Philippine Marines along with the rest of our platoon. This was another short term Project that I gained a great deal of experience in, especially when it came to working with a foreign element. Having to teach using an interpreter is something that is unique, and I found that I had an ability to work well with the interpreter in teaching the Marines.
After completing our training schedule in the Philippines, we were then sent up to Indonesia. Fox company was chosen for this operation as the rest of the MEU returned to Okinawa. Again, I developed another training cycle for the 2 weeks of training that we conducted with the Indonesian Military. This time we included in the training program a live fire training exercise. This included a close quarters engagement range that I developed and led, as well as a live fire offensive maneuver. My squad conducted the demonstration for their soldiers and I was one of the Point safety Officers that guided the Indonesian squad in their execution of the range. Our successful training of this unit led to a well executed day and night offensive maneuver. Again, I gained experience working with an interpreter to conduct the training and greatly enjoyed the experience.
Now I may not be absolutely correct on the timing here, but I believe we either returned to Okinawa first, and then met up with the MEU in Thailand, or went straight out to Thailand first before returning to Okinawa. Regardless, we ended up going to Thailand to train the Thai Marines as a part of Operation Cobra Gold, which is a training exercise that the United States would do frequently with the Thai military. I was again made responsible for developing a training package for teaching a variety of Infantry Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures to the Thai platoon. All of these training events provided me with experience in Project Management, the Project being the development of these training packages, along with their execution and proper closing out and completion.
I was able to gain the following points of experience:
- Developing training programs including scheduling, allocation of supplies from limited resources, and utilizing interpreters
- Tasking personnel with specific duties as a part of the execution of training
- Coordinating with various units in the acquisition of supplies and the leadership of our platoon in conducting “round robin” training session.
- Conducting evaluation of the unit in the conduct of training, supervising its execution, and coordinating various teams.
- Conducting proper closing of training, ensuring retention of the knowledge provided, and evaluating the practical application of the skills taught.
Due to my performance in the conduct of these training operations, I was awarded with a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, also known as a “NAM”. This award can be viewed in the “Awards” section of this website.
After completing this operation we returned to Okinawa. During his period, I continued training my Marines, but I placed a greater emphasis on preparing my junior Marines for becoming leaders once we returned home. I began focusing on allowing them to lead in some of the training, giving my junior Marines the opportunity to lead their teams in small operations around Camp Hansen. I always kept my Marines training while other platoons remained in the barracks. I wanted to do everything possible to ensure that my Marines would be better leaders than I was, striving to get them to give their best and to always seek to improve themselves.
We then returned back home to Camp Pendleton in either June or July of 2008.