International Fellows visit XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg
January 22, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Army War College's International Fellows Program made a special visit to the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg to get a better understanding of how the U.S. Army handles training and preparing it's Soldiers for battle, Jan. 10 through 12.
The group, which consisted of foreign officers from six countries, was welcomed by Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, XVIII Abn. Corps commander, and included a visit to the Mobile Counter-IED Interactive Trainer, and a trip to the range to witness a live-fire exercise.
"This is not a special program, it is an additional program on top of the Army War College curriculum and it's an opportunity to get (the foreign officers) away from the normal classroom environment and to give them a bit of hands-on of the broader Army that we wouldn't be able to (give them) in a normal academic year at the school," said Col. Alpo Portelli, director of the International Fellows Program at the Army War College.
"When they return to the War College, they will share this experience with their fellow International Fellows," said Portelli.
Only six International Fellows were able to make the trip but Portelli is confident the War College be able to offer more foreign officers this opportunity.
"We want to expand to 10 to 12 Soldiers the next time around," Portelli said. "This is the inaugural trip and we will institutionalize it over the course of the year and into the next academic year. This is going to have huge payoff for us.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with these guys," he added. "They are with us in the coalition and are helping us fight the Global War on Terror. So to be able to bring them to (Fort Bragg) and for them to see firsthand some things that the corps and the 82nd (Airborne Division) are able to do, gives these officers additional tools for their mental tool kit to take with them. So all this really is a wonderful opportunity for these Army War College students."
Getting the opportunity to take a closer look at how the Army trains is an important advantage to the War College students, said Lt. Col. Robert Walker, a student at the Army War College and a Canadian infantry officer.
"This is an important trip because this gives us a better appreciation of the United States Army and it's structure, it's command and control, mission and how the Army trains and prepares their Soldiers for battle," Walker said.
"Each one of the officers from the International Fellows at the War College comes from different military cultures, different capabilities and have different experiences," he said.
"We each have different ideas as to what needs or should be done," Walker added. "With these coalition countries having soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, we do a lot of the same training and use the same equipment, but it's good to see how the United States Army is conducting training and fighting as the preeminent force out there."
Walker also said he received a vast amount of knowledge to share with the other International Fellows who were unable to attend the Fort Bragg trip.
"When we return to the Army War College, we are going to cover the highlights of the training and key issues the XVIII Airborne Corps is undertaking right now," he said.
"Forceful entry has been a big key issue and also mobile counter IED trainer we visited was really interesting. I've never seen anything like that before and it's something we should really talk about with our peers. It would be extremely useful for them as well."
The trip to Fort Bragg was deemed a success by the International Fellows and Portelli. As the school year goes on, Portelli and company will continue their efforts to give the International Fellows more hands-on Army training.
"This is new training aid and all the other service chiefs have jumped on the bandwagon and have directed their war colleges to institute the same kind of program," Portelli said.
"This program assists the foreign chiefs of staff of the army in the professionalization and education of their senior officers who come through our War College," Portelli said.
"We will continue to grow our baseline program as others mirror our efforts. We are at 50 officers from 49 different countries and over the next three years, we will grow that to over 80 countries.
"Our goal is to give all of them the same chance to experience the Army like these six have."