By Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. TaylorJuly 12, 2014
CHICAGO, Ill.-- Army Reserve Capt. Curtis Sampson, Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 85th Support Command; participated in a unique opportunity to visit Denmark as part of the Military Reserve Exchange Program from June 11 through 25.
The program, coordinated through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, offered various partnership opportunities between the United States and Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom. This particular opportunity was to Denmark with the Danish Home Guard District East Jutland and North Jutland for a live fire exercise and military sports competition.
The purpose was for Army Reserve troop program unit (TPU) officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers to use this program to expand their understanding of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), share best practices among reserve units, and forge meaningful professional relationships with allies.
Sampson shared a few of his initial expectations in participating in the program.
"I thought it would be something great to experience," said Sampson. "I was hoping to receive some cultural awareness and professional development in meeting a foreign military."
Sampson's group consisted of about 10 soldiers, half from the Army Reserve and half from the Army National Guard, which interacted with soldiers from the Danish military equivalent there.
The first portion of the tour involved marksmanship training, firing various weapon systems from the Danish military, and was followed by field exercises and historical and cultural tours of the region.
Sampson explained some of the differences on the Danish marksmanship ranges from what he was used to on U.S. Army weapons ranges.
"There are various pop-up targets, targets in trees, explosions, and platforms that raise and lower you as you hit your targets to qualify," said Sampson. "It was real-live stuff."
Considering the level of intensity on ranges, Sampson stated that the level of structured discipline was different also from that of U.S. bases.
"On U.S. ranges when the range says 'cease fire' soldiers know immediately not to fire
another round and U.S. soldiers keep their weapons pointed down range at all times. In Denmark, when they called 'cease fire' a few rounds continued to fire down range, and it did feel
safe, but weapons weren't kept strictly down range as we do here," said Sampson. "The thinking behind that somewhat more relaxed state seemed to be that the more tense you are, the more likely you are to make mistakes."
"What I experienced, people pay thousands of dollars to do," Sampson said. "I learned so
much about the people and met people who had never seen a real American soldier. Until now, at least in the smaller communities, they had only seen an American soldier on television".
Sampson stated that the overall experience was beneficial to not only his military career, but also his personal look on life.
"You got to take that opportunity to go to a different country and experience their
lifestyle. We only had a few days of internet, so we were pretty much disconnected from anything back at home, but we had experiences like dinner with locals, and to just be an
American in another country seemed to take me to a 'rockstar' status for some reason,"
said Sampson. "It was just phenomenal how we were treated."
"As a young (noncommissioned officer), lieutenant or captain, you definitely want to
experience in how other militaries train. When you go to work in a G3 (operations) shop, your
mind is not just set in a '30-rounds down range' mentality. You can actually think a
little bit outside of the box and put up some pop-up targets, charge through the woods, and
actually make the training more realistic."