5/11/2012 By Sgt. Brandon L. Saunders , Marine Corps Bases Japan

PUCKAPUNYAL, Australia — Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force combat shooting detachment began firing during the Australian Army Skills at Arms Meeting 2012 here May 7.

In its 25th iteration, the AASAM is a multilateral event allowing U.S. service members to exchange skills, tactics, techniques and procedures with members of the Australian Army and members of 14 other international militaries in friendly competition.

The U.S. Marine combat shooting detachment was assembled by Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Va., and III MEF upon invitation by the Australian Army.

“We all have the opportunity to showcase different skill sets with various weapon systems with people from all over the world,” said Sgt. Nick A. Hill, member of the III MEF combat shooting detachment. “This is a big deal for all involved.”

U.S. participation in AASAM 12 demonstrates the United States’ continued commitment to partnership, presence and readiness with its Australian allies.

“This is the third year U.S. Marines have had the chance to participate in this event,” said Staff Sgt. Travis W. Hawthorne, member of the III MEF combat shooting detachment. “We hope to do well and leave a lasting impression, so we can keep this going.”

Upon arrival to the Puckapunyal Combined Arms Training Center, Victoria, Australia, Marines were afforded the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the multiple courses of fire involved in the various events of the competition. While on the range, Marines interacted with members of foreign militaries and learned about firing foreign weapon systems.

“It’s good working with the Marines because we come from similar cultures, but we’re from different parts of the world,” said Australian Army Lt. Natalie Canham, engineering officer and competitor.

Other participating nations include the United Kingdom, Canada, France, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand, Republic of the Philippines, Japan, Brunei, Timor-Leste.
The competition is scheduled for May 7-17.