NAVAL STATION MANDA BAY, Kenya -- Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Battalion Landing Team 2/2 began training today alongside elements of the Kenyan Army's 15th Rifle Battalion during Exercise Edged Mallet '07.
The Marines and Kenyan soldiers spent the day teaching their counterparts how they handle situations such as fire-team rushes, contact drills, mine and improvised explosive device procedures, and helicopter loading and unloading.
The Marine battalion divided into companies and platoons, linked up with their corresponding Kenyan unit, and went to different training areas for classes and practical applications of lessons.
2nd Lieutenant Stephen F. Penny, Jr., 3rd Platoon Commander, Fox Company, BLT 2/2, said the training is important because it enhances the professional relationship between the Kenyans and the Marines.
"The teamwork was great," he said, "We compared and contrasted the different tactics, techniques and procedures we utilize."
Staff Sergeant Friedrich M. Flores, 3rd Platoon Sergeant, Fox Co., said the training was intended to help the two nation's militaries understand how the other operated.
"We taught classes to the Kenyan soldiers on our basic methods of dealing with situations," he said, "at the same time it reinforces our own training."
Flores said he was impressed by the Kenyans.
"They are quite good," he said, "They have a mix of experienced veterans and younger soldiers.
Flores said the two groups transitioned smoothly from strangers into allies, and that everyone there was eager to learn.
Although the training was strictly business at first, the Marines and Kenyan soldiers soon found common interests, and the organized training halted for a few minutes while the Marines and soldiers began talking to each other and demonstrating to each other how their different weapons systems work.
When lunch came, Marines and Kenyans sat side-by-side, swapping stories and food from their Meals Ready to Eat.
That cultural exchange was almost as important for the exercise as the military training, according to Penny.
"This gives us a chance to meet with them, talk to them, and learn a little bit about each other's cultures," he said.
That one-on-one interaction can pay dividends in the future, according to Penny.
"We have the opportunity to learn about the language and to get to know them on a personal level," he said, "It shows them we can be relied upon as solid allies."
The 26th MEU is comprised of the Command Element; the Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 2/2; the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion-26; and the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Reinforced).
The 26th MEU, along with the ships of the Bataan Strike Group, USS Bataan (LHD-5, USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), USS Shreveport (LPD-12), USS Nitze (DDG-94), USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), USS Underwood (FFG-36) and USS Scranton (SSN-756), deployed in early January on a routine, scheduled deployment.
For more information, news, and video, please visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.