Elements of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BAT ARG) and U.S. 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)) Bravo Command Element are training alongside Norwegian Soldiers, from Brigade North, and Italian Marines, from San Marco Brigade, during a Norwegian bilateral training exercise.
The training event began with the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, USS Mesa Verde’s (LPD-19) arrival in Narvik, Norway, to offload the 26th MEU(SOC)’s Bravo Command Element personnel and equipment for the upcoming training in Setermoen, Norway.
After arriving in Setermoen, 26th MEU(SOC) Bravo Command Element welcomed Italian Marines from San Marco Marine Brigade. The Italian Marines will be fully integrating into the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team throughout the course of the ARG/MEU’s deployment commencing with the Norwegian bilateral training, which marks the first scheduled U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/Sixth Fleet operation, activity, investment (OAI) for the ARG/MEU.
The exercise will provide the BAT ARG/26th MEU(SOC) an opportunity to exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures, while participating in multiple integrated live-fire events, battle drills, patrols, and long-range hikes to strengthen the long-standing relationship with its NATO Ally and partner.
Prior to the arrival of the Norwegian Soldiers from Brigade North, the Marines of “Cold Steel” Battalion Landing Team 1/6 had the opportunity to work side-by-side and interoperate with the Italian Marines from San Marco Marine Brigade.
For most of the Marines, this is the first time they will have the opportunity to work and integrate with NATO Ally and partners.
“For the platoon, I would say this is a unique experience. This is the first time for a lot of the (US) Marines to train with someone who did not receive the same training as them,” said 1st Lt. Blake Gratton, Charlie Company, 1st Platoon Commander. “Working with the Italians Marines went very well. Our Marines had to be concise and clear in communicating due to a slight language barrier, but as a whole, the Italian Marines were seamlessly able to operate with us at the squad level and below,” Gratton continued.