Exercise passes on vital skills

The National,Tuesday July 5th, 2016

THE United States Navy ship USNS Sacagawea has left our shores but a group of local soldiers are cherishing the military skills and information imparted to them by the Marines on board.
That is how Lieutenant-Colonel Edison Napyo sums up the benefits they gained from the week-long Exercise Koa Moana – a joint military exercise between the Marines and soldiers from Charlie Company of the First Royal Pacific Islands Regiment at Taurama Barracks. Koa Moana is Hawaiian for Ocean Warrior.
They imparted to the local soldiers advanced military techniques, tactics and skills.
At the end of the military exercise, Napyo, the commander of the regiment, told the Americans how they valued what they had learnt.
“Your visit to Owens’ Corner at Sogeri definitely gave yourselves some good experiences. You shared your skills, knowledge, ideas, experiences and importantly, great interactions among yourselves,” he said.
At a mumu feast to mark the end of the exercise, platoon commander Second-Lieutenant Kents James told of how much they had learnt from the Americans during Exercise Koa Moana.
“On Saturday, June 18, the Marines arrived. We had an opening ceremony here at the parade oval. After that we went and sorted out everything (for the exercise).”
They began the exercise on Sunday and were divided into two teams.
“In Charlie Company, we formed up with two composite platoons and divided into two teams – Team Alpha and Team Bravo. When the 75 Marines came, they joined these two teams.”
They started with urban patrolling.
“We basically carried it out within the vicinity of urban areas like in cities and towns, not in jungles. We learned how to conduct urban patrolling and how to clear buildings (in times of emergencies).
“From there we went to field signals of urban patrolling. We proceeded to crowd control measures (during riots). We learnt (how to use) shields and non-lethal weapons without the use of firearms to control riots. How to move crowds and disperse crowds without the use of firearms.”
The soldiers and the Marines moved on to entrance search or entrance checkpoint.
“It’s similar to a legal checkpoint which they conduct in person. We call it snap entrance checkpoint because it’s short. We put short obstacles.
“Those are some of the things Marines who went to Afghanistan and Iraq experienced. They said they used it in Afghanistan and Iraq but later tested it then made adjustments to it.”
The local soldiers gained new skills from the Marines on check-points.
“That is when and how people come in and how we will stop them at a distance if they possess any threats,” he said.
“Then we will handle them and make sure that all weapons are removed from them without forcing them.
“We only set obstacles. The person just walks in. These are the latest skills and techniques which the Marines learned in Afghanistan. They never actually confront the person because they could be suicide bombers.
“We then learnt combat medical life saver skills. That is when in a war and a soldier is injured, it is like first-aid applied but there are slight differences.
“When a soldier is injured on the spot, some rules in relation to health, prohibits such use. But in the case of combat, time is limited. That is when we apply it to prevent loss of blood.
“That was what they have experienced when on duty in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“From the problems they encounter there, the made adjustments, gain new skills and techniques on how to save lives of soldiers in combat within minutes. They taught us how we can rescue our comrades.”
Unarmed combat tactics on how to remove weapons from targeted subjects is another skill gained during the exercise, according to Kents.
“On Monday, we went to Goldie for shooting (target range practice). On Tuesday, we went to Sogeri at Owens’ Corner to Kokoda. We went to where the Goldie River starts from.”
Kents says one thing they learnt from the exercise is that all armies are the same in terms of the basics for infantry training.
“But for the US marines, they possess advanced skills which we haven’t got,” he said.
“They have experience from serving in wars. They know what is good and bad. They told us everything.
“We learn many good things about the exercise. Such bilateral exercises are in line with PNG Vision 2050 and the Defence White Paper.
“After the testing and the adjustment of tactics, they taught us skills, techniques, tactics and procedures – entirely different subjects.
“All they did was to twist it around and make it look like a new method altogether.
“We learn many good things about the exercise. Such bilateral exercises are in line with PNG Vision 2050 and the Defence White Paper.