Sky Soldiers, Iron Wolves certify on Combatives
August 21, 2014
RUKLA, Lithuania -- The clinch.
The rear-naked choke.
The straight arm-bar ... from guard.
The scissor sweep ... The sleeve choke ... The seatbelt ...
Trading boots for sneakers, the 'Sky Soldiers' of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade and 'Iron Wolves' of the Lithuanian Land Forces' Mechanized Infantry Brigade spent a week learning new definitions for these seemingly everyday terms through combined Army Combatives Level I certification training here Aug. 4-8.
Sgt. 1st Class Brett Macy, native of Indianapolis and mortar platoon sergeant for 1st Sqdn., 91st Cav. Regt., is certified as Army Combatives Level III, authorizing him to instruct and certify Soldiers of both countries as Level I instructors.
"Over the last week, we taught the Army basic combatives course, which basically produces unit-level combatives instructors," Macy said. "The bottom line is they're going to be able to take what they've learned here and go back to their units and teach all the Level I techniques safely and efficiently."
Approximately 600 'Sky Soldiers' are currently serving in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to demonstrate the United States' commitment to NATO obligations and to sustain interoperability with allied forces.
The U.S. Army currently requires units to integrate combatives into their physical training schedules to ensure Soldiers are mentally and physically prepared for the possibility of engaging the enemy in close combat on the battlefield.
"Army combatives is important because it helps instill the warrior ethos," Macy said. "It helps to give each one of these individual Soldiers more pride and confidence in themselves."
Macy said the opportunity to train with their Lithuanian counterparts was an invaluable experience and unique opportunity that wasn't wasted.
"There was a little bit of a language barrier, but I think the beauty of working hand-in-hand with them is they come from more of a Sambo background and we come from more of a Jiu-jitsu background," Macy said. "So we show them a lot of stuff they may not be familiar with and they've shown us moves that we're not very familiar with. Not only that, just talking with Soldiers on a daily basis from different nations, it's just been a very enjoyable experience for everybody."
"It's very good for us to be able to train with the Americans," said Junior Pvt. Tomas Vitkauskas of the Iron Wolf Brigade. "We get to learn new things and sometimes we get to show the Americans a different way and they like that, too."
The 'Sky Soldiers' learned more than just hand-to-hand combat during the week of intensive training.
"The training was phenomenal," said cavalry scout Pvt. Benjamin Chrapczynski of Lorain, Ohio. "My favorite thing about the training was the camaraderie, honestly."
Chrapczynski said his Lithuanian friends were highly motivated during the training.
"I went up against a specific Lithuanian and I swear to God, I don't know what he learned, what he was taught, but he tapped me out at least three times," Chrapczynski laughed.
Chrapzynski said he's thoroughly enjoyed his experiences during his deployment for Operation Atlantic Resolve and his time in Lithuania.
"Operation Atlantic Resolve has been a great experience," Chrapczynski said. "I get to learn a new culture, I get to meet new people. The training here is phenomenal, especially when I get to jump out of an airplane. It's been a really great experience. The Army gives you a great adventure."