American and Israeli soldiers train together

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

A company of US Marines was in Israel last month for joint urban warfare training sessions with Israeli soldiers.

Most of the exercises took place at the IDF's state-of-the-art Urban Warfare Training Center at the Tze'elim army base in southern Israel.

The Americans had traveled to Israel from their base in Europe. Speaking to the IDF Spokesperson about the experience, Platoon Sgt. Robert Hattenbach said, "We've never been to a mock town like that of the IDF."

A number of the Marines reportedly spoke positively about the size and realistic feel of the IDF training facility.

The IDF's Urban Warare Training Center has been used repeatedly by the US military to train soldiers preparing to deploy in Iraq and Afghanistan, where urban warfare againt insurgent forces in the norm.

The Israelis use each visit by their American counterparts to create new ambassadors for Israel and to better help the American public at large to understand Israel's situation, at least militarily.

"We now better understand what Israel really is and when we go back to the US we can tell people that," said Sgt. Hattenbach.

But it wasn't all just war games during the Marines' one-month visit. The Marines also got a chance to experience Israeli culture and history, to see what day-to-day life is like in the Jewish state.

"Coming to Israel has been an inspirational trip," said Hospital Corpsman HM1 Raymond Price. "It's beautiful to see how Israel has managed to preserve so many years of history, culture and tradition."

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