BAUMHOLDER, Germany (Sgt Paul Peterson) – Their final strike came at night, when two platoons of U.S. Marines and an Army Special Forces troops slipped in under the cover of darkness.
After nearly two weeks of constant training, the Marines of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa locked down a perimeter in Baumholder, Germany, March 11. The base’s abandoned housing area offered a perfect, final test for the service members, who prepared for the training event side by side with a Special Forces team from the U.S. Army’s 10th Special Forces Group.
“Everything we have we gained from experience [and] the guys who have gone before us,” explained a Special Forces weapons sergeant, who took part in the raid. “We’re able to take that, bring it out here to the Marines, and show them these are the things we’ve seen work.”
The two groups joined forces in Germany to prepare to respond to regional crises, which they may face as a united front in places such as Africa. Special Forces instructors spent days running the Marines through close-quarters combat drills, reflexive marksmanship ranges, and urban maneuverability courses.
They tore apart their uniforms crawling through windows and underground drainage pipes. They also melded together, taking down block after block of houses. Room by room, they pushed through with a unique blend of the Marine Corps’ urban combat procedures and Special Forces techniques.
“If something should happen, and we do get called up … we already know [how to work together],” said Marine Sgt. Brandon Woodard, a squad leader with SPMAGTF-CR-AF. “We’ve worked with these guys. We’ve operated with them before … and we can see the same faces.”
“Getting that tight nit working relationship is going to pay dividends in the long run.”
As a test of that relationship, an ambush awaited the two groups on their final training mission.
Opposition role players opened up with effective fire from a nearby building as the Special Forces team attempted to exit their target structure. The Marines launched a quick reaction force from their perimeter teams, engaging the role players from the street before pushing into the building and clearing the structure in a back-to-back fight.
“I know the guy behind me, without even looking at him, is doing the right thing,” explained a Special Forces team member. “He’s fighting the biggest threat behind me … It gives you a ton of confidence in yourself, and that confidence rolls over to everybody else who’s with you.”
The fight was over in no more than ten minutes. The Marines pushed from the ground up with the team model they honed during their training. They slammed through doors in near pitch-black rooms, relying on procedures to guide their movements in the chaos of the dark.
“We all joined the military because we want Americans to win fights, and we don’t want Americans to get hurt anywhere in the world,” noted the Special Forces team member. “Us getting together and training like this is what’s going to save American lives down the road.”