ROTA, Spain (NNS) (NNS) -- Marines attached to 2nd Platoon Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST), Company Europe, began conducting a bilateral training exercise, Lisa Azul, with Spanish marines aboard Naval Station (NS) Rota Oct. 25.
The exercise is scheduled to conclude Nov. 5.
"The goal of this exercise is to build upon relationships with our host country and ally," said Capt. Nate McAndrew, Marine platoon commander and Exercise Lisa Azul officer-in-charge. "It builds critical relationships and increases inoperability."
The exercise between the U.S. Marines and their counterparts from the Spanish Infantera de Marine includes live-fire machine gun and marksmanship training, as well as convoy training and close-quarters battle training.
Training took place at NS Rota, and at the amphibious Spanish training camps in Sierra de Retin, which is located near Barbate in the province of Cadiz.
Lisa Azul is a combined exercise that allows American and Spanish forces to share best practices and later apply them to situations in which maritime forces are operating.
"The Spanish marines hold a similar mission as brothers in the same service as us," said Staff Sgt. Orlando Avila, 5th platoon. "It's good training for our Marines, because it exposes them to new ideas."
"The Spanish teams that we've been training with are tactically sound and very professional," said McAndrew.
In addition to sharing information, the exercise allowed junior Marines the opportunity to further their leadership skills, he said.
"It was cool to be actually in a teaching role," said Lance Cpl. Charles Bourne, of Elkgrove, Ill., who served as a line coach on the shooting range.
"Especially if it's going to be somebody who's going to Afghanistan with us," said Agustin Lara, of Brooklyn, N.Y., whose ability to speak Spanish enhanced communication and learning throughout the two-week exercise.
While Lisa Azul gave U.S. Marines the chance to share their tactics, the Americans were able to add more information to their toolkit of knowledge.
"It opens up another option, another way to approach a problem," McAndrew said.
McAndrew also said that while some of the tactics and approaches differ, many American Marines were surprised to learn that their Spanish partners shared many things in common. He said this helped Marines feel even more reassured with their own training.
The last day of training will include a barbecue, as well as friendly competition in soccer and football.
"It's a great experience to be able to train with another nation's forces," said Bourne. "The bond is growing."
Lisa Azul is held twice a year. The last exercise took place Jan. 25 to Feb. 5. Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 8 also participated in the exercise.
"Rota plays a crucial role in supporting our nation's maritime strategy by providing the facilities and opportunities for evolutions such as this," said NS Rota Commanding Officer Capt. Bill Mosk. "We want to ensure we are providing exceptional support to our warfighters."
FAST Company Europe is a tenant command of Commander, Naval Expeditionary Task Force Europe and Africa (CTF 68). The task force is responsible for exercising tactical control and functional component command over assigned forces for the direction, control and approval of movements, maneuvers and operations necessary to accomplish Commander, 6th Fleet assigned missions and tasks.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.