Partnership builds strength along with friendships
May 5, 2010
MANNHEIM, Germany - Continuing its tradition of partnership with the 2nd Company, FeldjAfA$ger Battalion 251 - the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th Military Police Brigade wrapped up its most recent training venture with its sister unit April 28 in Mannheim, Germany. Over the course of a week, the FeldjAfA$gers, or German MPs, were given numerous classes and had the opportunity to learn U.S. Army MP tactics for a variety of garrison and combat situations.
The partnership is an ongoing tradition within the brigade and something the HHC "Roughnecks" and their German counterparts look forward to whenever the opportunity arises.
"We've done two Schutzenschnurs, numerous ranges on our side, and we've just done a lot of events. I think it's been one of the highlights of my time in command to be able to have that experience," said Cpt. Benjamin Barrett, the commander of HHC, 18th MP Brigade.
The training began with the opportunity to earn their American marksmanship badges with the M4 rifle and the M9 pistol April 22 at Lampertheim Training Area in Mannehim, where the brigade conducted a range and trained the FeldjAfA$gers on the fundamentals of the weapons.
Having had the opportunity to earn the Schutzenschnur - the German marksmanship badge - HHC returned the favor at the April 22 range for the FeldjAfA$gers. MPs spent the day instructing and advising their counterparts on the differences and similarities between the American and German rifle and pistol, which resulted in good scores from the FeldjAfA$gers on the range.
With their marksmanship badges earned, the FeldjAfA$gers returned to Mannheim April 27-28 to tackle a non-lethal training course and a Military Operations on Urban Terrain course put on by the company's training section. The non-lethal course included instruction on the taser, Oleoresin Capsicum pepper spray and self-defense using a police baton.
The instruction on the taser gave the FeldjAfA$gers a course on the purpose, the proper implementation and the effects of the taser. The FeldjAfA$gers were, of course, given the opportunity to feel the effects of the taser first-hand along with their American counterparts. The five-second tasing gave everyone a proper idea of the effects of the taser - along with a firm desire to never be tased again.
As painful as the taser was to experience, the taser demonstration area was filled with laughter as MPs and FeldjAfA$gers watched their buddies go through their five excruciating seconds of being tased. It was one of the more surprising moments when the MPs bonded with each other through the training.
The training with the OC spray was not quite as enjoyable, and the amount of laughter was noticeably lower as each FeldjAfA$ger was sprayed with OC and led through an obstacle course where they had to defend themselves with their police batons.
The first day of training ended after the obstacle course, and the MPs and FeldjAfA$gers recovered from their first day of training with a barbecue in front of the brigade headquarters. As the soldiers traded stories over hamburgers and potato salad, the friendly bond between the two companies was obvious.
As important as the partnership is from a military perspective, there is definitely a friendly social environment that develops during this type of training. Soldiers often leave training events like this one with a German friend that they will continue to keep in touch with long after the training is over.
It is one of the unique benefits to being stationed in Germany and having a partnership like this, said Barrett.
"I think it's a benefit for everybody, not just military-wise," Barrett said, adding that, "It transcends the military side."
"All of the things we learned were either new or nearly new because we do not do things the way you do," said German army Staff Sgt. Miro Wildemann, one of the FeldjAfA$gers who participated in the training.
The opportunity to learn a new tactic for a given situation not only gives the German soldiers a unique training opportunity, but it also gives the 18th MP Bde. Soldiers a chance to refine their understanding and execution of drills.
The MOUT site training at the LTA added another element to the training when HHC partnered up with Soldiers from 43rd Signal Company, who were doing their own training exercises in the field and allowed them the opportunity to go through the MOUT site with a foreign army.
Staff Sgt. William Benson, the operations noncommissioned officer in charge for HHC, 18th MP Bde., who led the training for the non-lethal course and the MOUT site, said the training at the MOUT site was especially significant because "It is very realistic. When I was downrange I worked with all types of Soldiers. It almost doesn't matter where you go now, all the missions are either NATO or ISAF or some type of coalition."
German army Pfc. Dirk Christmann added that "The MOUT training was fun because going in houses - and especially doing it with foreign forces where you have the language barrier - was very interesting."
Many of the Soldiers who participated in the MOUT site training had combat experience, which supplemented the MP combat experience of the instructors, and that meant a lot to the FeldjAfA$gers who participated in the training.
"All the instructors today had experience in Iraq and that has a very heavy weight for me, with what they say," Wildemann said after the training, adding that the most important thing for him is that "It's not from a book; it's from experience."
The training event proved to be both a learning experience and a bonding experience for both units - and a tradition that both sides hope to continue to build on.