NAVAL BASE ROTA, Spain —
Marines and Sailors with Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Company, Europe (FASTEUR), Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 CTG 68.2 and Spanish Marines participated in two-week exercise Lisa Azul, Oct 19-28.
The Navy Expeditionary Combat Forces (NECF) joined the Spanish Marines in simulated real-life training evolutions to improve combat support capabilities in today's complex operational environment. NECF training delivers combat effectiveness by building the confidence and proficiency that breeds success in combat.
"The significance of Lisa Azul is to continue to build our partner nation force relationships with the Spanish forces," said U.S. Marine Capt. Mark De la Peña, from New Hyde Park, N.Y., platoon commander, Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team-Europe, Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion. "At the tactical level, we compare and exchange techniques, tactics, and procedures to improve our combat readiness.”
The exercise was planned as a trilateral exercise between Spanish, Italian, and Americans, but the operation shifted due to the ongoing pandemic. The U.S. and Spanish forces are committed to enhancing security, stability, readiness, and combat capability while taking every precaution to ensure troops' health and safety in a COVID 19 environment.
FASTEUR’s primary mission is to conduct security operations in support of Commanders, United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) and Africa Command (COMUSAFRICOM), in order to protect vital naval and national assets, but Lisa Azul presented the team with the unique opportunity to train in an unfamiliar environment.
"These past two weeks have allowed us to do a conventional type of infantry operations," said De la Peña. "In areas with more dispersion, the teams were able to experience infantry, fire and maneuvering, and patrol base operations."
Some leaders within the Spanish forces have previously completed U.S. tactical training, including Marine Corps Basic School, Expeditionary Warfare School, and command and staff training. This allowed for easier integration of experience at both the tactical and operational levels.
"This is not the first time working with U.S. Marines, but it has been a great experience. We learned many things from each other," said Spanish Marine Capt. Jesus Albert, company commander, 3rd Company, 1st Battalion of the Spanish Marine Brigade.
Albert went on to express his admiration for the U.S. Marines and their combat experience likening them to “big brothers” in spite of the Spanish Marines being historically older. “They are a great source of knowledge and this was a great opportunity to make new relations with our brother Marines," he said.
Task Force 68 embraces innovation and knows that it must be purposely encouraged, prioritized, and integrated across all levels to succeed in the new anticipated environment. By completing annual training, the teams continue to build upon the foundation for success in combat.
“We worked hard to get to this point, and I feel like both U.S. and Spanish forces are walking away better prepared to carry out the mission when we are called upon," said Marine Sgt. Carl Edwards, from Summerset, K.Y., Platoon Sergeant for Bravo III, Marine with Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team-Europe. "We were able to build relations and understand the different types of tactics that we both use. I look forward to working with them again in the future."
Lisa Azul is a Joint Nation exercise between the U.S. and Spanish expeditionary forces, designed to strengthen capabilities and interoperability through information exchanges and combined operations with partners and allies. FASTEUR is a Task Group under Navy Expeditionary
Combat Forces Europe-Africa/Task Force 68, deployed to conduct crisis-response and theater-security operations in Europe and Africa.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with Allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.