[From the Archive] The multinational Black Sea Rotational Force Platinum Lynx 15.1 exercise with troops in the field and live fire, offered a prime opportunity for the Romanian Mountain Rangers Unit and US Marines to train together.
The latest module, hosted by 17th Mountain Rangers Battalion „Dragos Voda” and held in the Rarau Mountains and Rotunda Gorge, brought together servicemen from 61 Mountain Rangers Brigade „General Virgil Badulescu” – 22nd Mountain Rangers Battalion 22 „Ciresoaia” from Sfantu Gheorghe and 24th Mountain Rangers Battalion „General George Avramescu” from Miercurea Ciuc – and US Marines from Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.
The servicemen from the two partner countries trained together for nearly one week, sharing their knowledge of weapons and equipment, procedures and techniques, and movements, and the combat required in harsh terrains such as forest and mountain environments. The last part of the exercise involved defending a foothold in which Romanian Mountain Rangers and US Marines trained side by side, forming mixed teams that prepared and led defense operations. The counterattack also involved helicopters from 95 Air Base „Hero aviator Captain Alexander Serbanescu” of Bacau.
The first day of the exercise focused on soldiers becoming better familiar with the respective armies’ military ranks, technique and armament, the second day signaled the start of the actual training in which US Marines were introduced to mountain and alpine techniques. Once in the Rarau Mountains, they trained with equipment specific to military mountaineering and learned from the Romanian Mountain Rangers modern methods of free climbing and rappelling, funicular and rope transportation and MEDEVAC of wounded and military equipment.
The next two days were the most intense for both the US and the Romanian servicemen, as in these two days they conducted the live-fire exercises and the mountain marches, each of the two Mountain Rangers Battalions taking half of US Marines.
I accompanied the Mountain Rangers from 24th Battalion „General George Avramescu”, with which we went, on the first day of instruction in Rodna Mountains, in a march towards the glacial lake Lala and Ineu Peak. We were led by Sergeant-Major Nicolae Olar from 17th Mountain Rangers Battalion, who guided us on the 15 km route. We reached Lala Lake which is at an altitude of 1,815 meters and the servicemen from the 22nd Mountain Rangers Battalion „Ciresoaia”, who made the trail the next day, arrived at Ineu Peak (elevation 2279 meters).
The fourth day of the exercise brought the Romanian and American servicemen in Rotunda fire range, to conduct a field exercise with troops and live-fire. Following a tactical scenario, a support company executed fire with a 120 mm caliber mortar, joined by the 81 mm mortar platoon of the US Marines. Fighting simulation continued with the introduction of scouts who rappelled into locations from IAR 330 Puma SOCAT helicopters. The soldiers were successful in their mission, which was to secure a command point, then to install and secure an observation post.
The next assignment was the installation of the support point and fighting devices. Using the horses from the hypo company of 22 MT Battalion „Ciresoaia”, the AG-9 grenade launchers and 82 mm mortars were transported to the firing positions, and fire was executed against enemy positions. Romanians were joined by the 81 mm and 60 mm mortars of the Marines, covering the flanks of the Mountain Rangers Company. Air support was requested, and the helicopters from 95 Base returned to attack enemy positions. During this time, the Marines succeeded in stopping and destroying the enemy’s infiltration into the defense positions. After stopping the enemy, the US military joined the Mountain Rangers boarded on the MLVM (combat vehicles specific for Mountain Rangers) for the final counter-attack. The last point of the exercise included again the helicopters from the 95 Base, which executed a MEDEVAC mission, evacuating the wounded from the battle field, action that completed the exercise.
For the Romanian military, trainings in mountainous areas are a regular task. But for the US Marines the simulation was a novel experience that gave them the opportunity to learn new things and share their knowledge. „Many of the Marines learned from Romanian Mountain Rangers rock climbing techniques and modern methods of free climbing and rappelling, funicular transport of wounded and military equipment. They also taught us mechanized infantry tactics. We showed them our method of engagement by sharing methods of conducting fire and maneuver,” said Captain Matthew Deffenbaugh, Weapons Company Commander, 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, Black Sea Rotational Force.
The last day of the BSRF brought together all the participants, this time not for training, but for a cultural program that showed them some of the attractions of Bukovina: Cacica Salt Mine, Moldovita Monastery and the International Painted Eggs Museum from Moldovita.
The story was first published in Tactica Magazine #7.
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