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Sgt. Adam Riggle, a section leader with Weapons Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, secures a street corner during culture training at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility, here, April 21. As squads patrolled through the MOUT facility, role players, mostly foreign nationals, played music, cooked food and manned shops depicting what Marines will encounter while on patrol through a village. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Scott Schmidt.) (RELEASED)

Photo by Cpl. Scott Schmidt

‘America’s Battalion’ gets a taste of Afghan culture at MOUT town

28 Apr 2009 | Cpl. Scott Schmidt

On today’s modern battlefield, the lines between noncombatants and combatants are thinning as insurgents hide among the local populous. Cultural understanding and Marines’ ability to rationally and responsibly assess a situation are becoming the new weapons against a modern enemy.

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, reinforced cultural awareness training at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility, here, April 20-24.

Government contractors with Defense Training Systems and its subsidiaries have supplied the Department of Defense with scenario-based training since the Global War on Terror began, by proctoring Marines as they move through different situations.

“The scenarios are designed to enhance cultural understanding for when we deploy,” explained Cpl. Adam King, a 23-year-old squad leader with Company G. “We’ve been preparing ourselves to better interact with the people of Afghanistan. Today, that knowledge was refined and put to the test, while talking with the role players.”

The language barrier is one of many hurdles Marines may face on a foreign battlefield and was strongly reinforced through simulated common community problems.

“Scenarios worked to mirror situations in theater,” King said. “Community and leadership engagements and relationships are critical when evaluating basic municipalities, the economy and a community’s essential services.”       

Marines also conducted what the contractors called “tactical decision games.”

As squads patrolled through the MOUT facility, foreign national role-players played music, cooked food and manned shops depicting what Marines may encounter while on patrol through a village.

“As a Marine, you are always posed with making decisions,” said Sgt. Adam Riggle, a section leader with Weapons Platoon. “In the most trying of circumstances you may only have seconds to make a choice. Second one: you see it; second two: you evaluate; and second three: you act on your decision.”

To hone Marines’ decision-making abilities, situational profiling becomes a profound tool, Riggle added.

“Profiling in the sense that we have to be on the look out for unusual activity,” he said. “The relationship with the community plays a big role here. With a good relationship, comes good intelligence (from villagers) about outsiders.”

To round up the training, Marines received informative classes about the Afghan culture from different foreign nationals.

“We want to help the Marines,” explained one Afghan role-player who requested anonymity. “By assisting the Marines, we are helping our country.”             

As the battalion prepares to attach to 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade for a future deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, one thing is certain explained King, “We have an understanding of the cultural differences and the tools to overcome obstacles.”


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