GUILDERLAND ,NY-Five New York Army National Guard Soldiers tapped to represent the United States at a military skills competition in South Africa next month honed their skills Friday, Oct. 15 at the state's Guilderland Weekend Training Site here.

The competition, scheduled for Potchefstroom, South Africa, Nov. 8-14, is a means to share military tactics and techniques with Soldiers from that nation, as well as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Canada and Tanzania.

The New York National Guard routinely conducts bilateral training opportunities and service member exchanges with the South African National Defense Force as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program, which pairs a United States National Guard with a developing nation's military. New York has been partnered with South Africa since 2005.

"The experience is going to help the younger Soldiers on our team. Today's one-on-one training is focused on firing fundamentals and improving individual shot groups, which should help them do their best during the competition," explained Sgt. 1st Class Troy Mechanick.

The Soldiers, all from Company C, Second Battalion 108th Infantry, were Mechanick, Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Orabona, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Dorvee and Pvt. 1st Class Michael Ellsworth. Additionally, Sgt Justin Vonderhyde and Sgt. Thomas Myers are serving as alternate competitors for the team.

The competitors will be judged on their ability with the South African R4 rifle, and the Star pistol; negotiating a land and water obstacle course; grenade throwing; and an eight kilometer cross country run.

"I'm a little nervous since we'll be using different weapons systems we won't get to see until a couple of days before the competition," Ellsworth said.

"I'm excited that I was picked to represent New York and the U.S. I look forward to experiencing a different culture, meeting Soldiers from other armies and hopefully make friends." Ellsworth added.

The South African Military Skills Competition brings members of the reserve forces of South Africa, as well as those of other nations together, in a friendly competition that also serves as a training venue. The teams will consist of four competitors and a coach.

"This is the first time we have participated in this competition, the Soldiers are going in not really knowing what to expect, said New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major Robert Van Pelt.

"Most of these Soldiers are veterans, and they'll appreciate this. Whether they win or lose, as long as they compete well, they'll be happy and remember this for the rest of their lives," Van Pelt added.

Page last updated Mon October 18th, 2010 at 11:44