By Spc. Gregory Argentieri, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs OfficeNovember 20, 2008
VICENZA, Italy -- "Sky Soldiers" from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and several of their Italian army counterparts completed the second phase of the U.S. Army Basic Non-commissioned Officer Course at Caserma Ederle here Oct. 14 - Nov. 6.
Instructors from Fort Benning, Ga., conducted the four weeks of instruction that included classroom, computer simulation, and field training. The course, designed for staff sergeants and Soldiers preparing to be promoted to staff sergeant, was taught as a "give-and-take" between instructors and Soldiers who shared battlefield experiences and exchanged tactics and techniques.
"I teach them and they teach me. It's a give-and-take process," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Casarez, a small group leader from Fort Benning's NCO Academy. "These guys have been through some stuff, and I've been learning a lot from them."
Casarez incorporates what he learns from Soldiers returning from Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom into his teaching. Afghanistan and Iraq are two totally different fights, and it's good to hear both sides of the story, he said.
"Learning from one another is important because even in theater, there are different regions, and what one region is doing could spread over to another," said Casarez. "All your little tactics and techniques you've spread through your Joes, I would want you to teach me and my Joes."
Casarez said learning from experienced Soldiers is the best way to learn, and provides students and instructors with networking skills and experience working with multinational forces. The Italian Soldiers participating in the training agreed.
"A big chance has been given to me to learn new techniques, and to improve my soldiering skills," said Italian Master Sgt. Paolo Donati from the 1st Regiment, Carabinieri Paratroopers. "This kind of partnership training is amazing."
Donati said the multinational training provides another form of give-and-take as well. For example, he said, on the firing range he learned from the American Soldiers while he shared his techniques with them.
"I was studying call for fire doctrine, but when you find yourself going through live training scenarios, it allows you the opportunity to check if you have learned the instructions and procedures properly, and then see if you can remember them," said Donati. "The aim is the same for the Italians and Americans, and the more we train with our American counterparts, the more we will benefit."
"These guys have big experiences on the battlefield. "I have great respect for them."
"The American Army is a different organization and is very large compared to the Italian army," said Sgt. Guisseppe Contirino, a 4th Brigade paratrooper from Livorno, Italy. "I have been learning all the different weapons."
Contirino also participated in the first phase of BNCOC with the U.S. Soldiers three months ago.
"The call for fire in the American Army is easy," said Contirino, who has served 12 years in the Italian army. "All the training has been good."
Contirino and his Italian army BNCOC graduates will multiply the experience and knowledge gained during BNCOC by teaching and sharing what they have learned with their comrades in their Italian army units.