Tiger Brigade hosts Egyptian VIPs at JRTC
Brig Gen. James C. Yarbrough (left), commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, and Col. Mark A. Bertolini, commander, 162nd Infantry Brigade, stand in front of the brigade colors with an Egyptian army delegation July 21, prior to a briefing outlining the Tiger Brigade's unique mission of training combat advisors.

FORT POLK, La. -- Four Egyptian Army general officers arrived at Fort Polk Tuesday and visited the 162nd Infantry Brigade for a briefing on Foreign Security Forces - Transition Team training.

Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, accompanied the dignitaries: Egyptian army Maj. Gen. Mohamed Abdelmoniem Aly Hashim, Egyptian army vice chief of staff; Egyptian army Maj. Gen. Ebrahiem Mohammed Nosohy Ebrahiem, Egyptian army chief of training authority; Egyptian army Maj. Gen. (retired) Gamal Mohamed Elsaid Abouelnour, counselor at the Egyptian army training center; and Egyptian army Brig. Gen. Abdelmohsen Elsayed Elbayoumy, commander of the Egyptian army training center; to receive a briefing from Col. Mark A. Bertolini, commander of the 162nd Inf Bde, and his primary staff.

"We hosted these foreign dignitaries to provide information regarding our brigade's unique mission to further our good relationship with the Egyptian military," Bertolini said.

The briefing, which lasted about an hour, covered the entire scope of the FSF-TT mission, from the 60-day training model at Fort Polk to the exportable training packages that will travel throughout the continental United States to train advisors that are organic to deploying brigade combat teams.

"We briefed the background on the combat advisor mission, an overview of the brigade, and a description of the type of training we are responsible for," Bertolini said. "The most important aspect of the mission we were trying to communicate was our ability to adapt to the current operational environment and provide tough, realistic and relevant training based on near real-time input from theater."

This was the first visit by a foreign VIP for the 162nd, and Bertolini said visits like this are important to the brigade and the Army.
"As a strategic ally in the Middle East, it is essential that we have an understanding of each other's capabilities and training philosophy," he said. "We expect and look forward to many more (visits) in the future."

The Egyptian officers had questions throughout the briefing, and even provided their insight into the difficulties this mission faces advising host nation security forces in Afghanistan.

"Major General Hashim provided some interesting insight into the difference between the nature of insurgency in Iraq versus Afghanistan," Bertolini said. "He believes that the two are very different. Iraq is characterized by a majority stable population which seeks only to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. By contrast, the insurgent elements in Afghanistan are extreme fundamentalists who may never be swayed from their radical ways. We, of course, respect and appreciate this insight coming from someone much more familiar with the region than we are."

Overall, the briefing was a success, according to Bertolini, and he and his staff look forward to briefing foreign officers in the future.
"We want our VIPs to walk away with a better appreciation of our plan to continue to train foreign security force advisors, not only in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, but for any overseas contingency operation," he said. "I thought the briefing and visit went extremely well. We are honored to host this visit to our brigade and hope that the information provided will be useful to our allies."

Page last updated Mon July 27th, 2009 at 16:53