NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria – Marines and Serbian soldiers shared skills for urban warfare in Bulgaria Jan. 17 as part of Exercise Platinum Lion.
The tactics exchange was led by Marines from Black Sea Rotational Force 14, who have been operating with NATO Allies and partners in the Black Sea Region since August.
“They didn’t need to be taught a lot, because they already knew
how [Military Operations in Urban Terrain] goes, how to clear buildings and how to patrol,” said Lance Cpl. Bradley Price, a mortarman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines. Price said their pre-existing knowledge made communication easy as they ran through scenarios in the MOUT town, which is a life-size simulation of an urban area, inclusive of buildings and roads.
The training included procedures for two-man and four-man room-clearing, single- and multiple-room clearing, multiple-story room clearing, patrolling through an urban environment and caring for a casualty in an urban environment, using BSRF Marines to play opposition forces to create scenarios designed to challenge the soldiers.
“The situations we had [were] quite realistic,” said Serbian Lance Cpl. Ognjen Samolovac, a sniper with the Serbian army. “There are not [many] chances to have training like this, and we are glad we could show we are able to work together,” said Samolovac from Zrenjanin, Serbia.
Marines and Serbians patrolled in formations, stacked in two- and four-man teams in front of entry points, and gave assertive commands to potential enemies in several languages. These procedures have become standard for the Marine Corps and they are becoming increasingly standard for the Serbians, Bulgarians and Romanians training every day at Exercise Platinum Lion 15.
“The main thing is, if we ever have to fight side-by-side, we now have just a better understanding of how we each operate so that we can work together more smoothly,” said Lance Cpl. Cole Domke, a mortarman with Weapons Co., 2nd Bn, 2nd Marines.
Besides the obvious applications of urban-combat skills in Iraq and Afghanistan, urban warfare training grew considerably after World War II, and has received special attention since the 1990s when it became a top priority for then-Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak.
During that time, Marine leadership thoughtfully studied MOUT, and a shift in training more inclusive of urban warfare began as Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-35.3, was released and implemented.
The publication correctly predicted the Marine Corps would “continue to play a prominent role in …peace, counterinsurgency, and contingency operations centered on urbanized areas.”
A Pentagon study predicts that 85 percent of the world’s inhabitants will be crowded into coastal cities within the next five years. Threats grow proportionally with cities, so worldwide urbanization carries challenges that extend far beyond the Marine Corps. This type of training is crucial for building the military capacity of partner nations as they face dynamic threats in urban areas.