Friday, September 19, 2008

US Marines Discover Beauty in Himalayas With Help From Nepal Army

NAGARKOT, Nepal-Nagarkot, Nepal. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael A. Bianco.)

NAGARKOT, Nepal-Nagarkot, Nepal. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael A. Bianco.)

NAGARKOT, Nepal-Nagarkot, Nepal. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael A. Bianco.)

Focus on Defense:

NAGARKOT, Nepal, Sept. 19, 2008 -- The occasion presented itself during a day off from the subject matter expert exchange between the Nepal Army and U.S. Marine Corps.

Three military police Marines from the Marine Corps Base Camp Butler Provost Marshal’s Office and Criminal Investigative Division, three Marines and the deputy director of the III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Bases Japan Consolidated

Public Affairs Office and four Nepal Army officers visited Nagarkot Mountain, home of the Nepal Army’s infantry school.

With a vast mountain range sprawling with deep ravines, timbered forests and near-alpine meadows, Nagarkot is a perfect setting for Nepal’s only infantry school, said Capt. Anil K.C., the adjutant officer of Military Police Battalion Bhadrakali, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Nagarkot Mountain is 7,400 feet above sea level and, while exploring it, the officers and Marines found a great opportunity to bond in a more personal way.

“Trips like this help strengthen relations between countries and make friends,” said K.C. “Sharing experiences is good for us.

“It’s not just about what you can take away from it as service members, but what you can take away from it as people. Sharing methods and tactics is a great way to improve each other’s military. However, to be able to share in experiences and each other’s culture can open minds and help us seek self-improvement,” K.C. said.

While making the four-hour trek up the mountain, the Marines were introduced to Nepal’s simpler, more traditional culture instead of the urban hustle and bustle of its capital city of Kathmandu. The trekkers’ path guided them within feet of the local residents’ brick dwellings for an up-close look at everyday life. Elderly women, well into

their 80s, wearing traditionally colored robes guided 1,500-pound buffalo through the countryside.

Rows of Nepali maize could be seen for miles, growing on near-vertical slopes that would render modern harvesting equipment ineffective. As the air became thinner, the Marines’ guides treated them to a roadside snack of seasoned cucumbers the size of watermelons.

Upon reaching their destination, an observation tower high atop Nagarkot Mountain, the

Marines had a ceremonious Tika dot placed on their foreheads and were given a Hindu blessing.

Before the Marines’ descent, they were able to view numerous mountain ranges from the balcony of a traditional Himalayan lodge as the day’s cloud cover exposed dozens of mountain peaks in the distance, several of which were more than 20,000 feet in elevation.

“Trips like these give us an opportunity to strengthen relations,” K.C. said.

(Story by Lance Cpl. Michael A. Bianco, III Marine Expeditionary Force.)

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