FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - Sgt. 1st Class John Reyes' passion for teaching was evident during the two weeks he spent at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in New Brunswick, Canada.
Although he was there to observe and advise, Reyes could not resist giving on-the-spot instruction to students training to be military engineers. For example, while the students were setting up Mobile Floating Bridges and rafts, similar to the U.S. Army's Improved Ribbon Bridge, he offered some quick safety tips, which they adopted.
Reyes, a Knoxville, Tenn., resident, and two other instructors assigned to 1st Engineer Brigade, 102d Training Division, 80th Training Command, were at the school, in July 2015, taking part in the first phase of an ongoing military instructor exchange between the U.S. and Canada designed to share ideas and maximize the strengths of both forces.
Canadian Armed Forces Sergeant Corey Struss, one of the schools senior noncommissioned officers, visited Fort Leonard Wood with a team of instructors a month earlier to observe the methods of U. S. Army instructors. He said, there are benefits to learning different ways of presenting the same information.
"Being able to get a fresh take and fresh eyes on all these different situations...even through the lens of our same doctrine...and seeing the different ways you [the U.S. Army] approach things was interesting," Struss said.
The Canadians have a longer course and students get a broader education on military engineering, as opposed to the U.S. where the military training is more specialized.
"When their engineers leave here, they've covered every aspect of training," said Sgt. 1st Class Oniel Murray, an instructor and branch chief at 1st Brigade. "Our soldiers go on to mission specific tasks and then, depending on that mission-specific task, we enhance the skills they're not taught at the schoolhouse."
Murray said, though the teaching technics are different, both the American and Canadian engineers rely on the same basic sets of skills and can easily work together in any joint endeavor.
"I see where I can take one of their soldiers, [and] implement them into our structure and it will work, or take one of our soldiers and put them into their system and it will work," he said. We teach the same basic task."
In the midst of his eagerness to share knowledge with his Canadian counterparts, Reyes found himself impressed with the Canadian's bridging equipment, noting how the hydraulics on their boats allow them to use smaller two-man crews, compared to the four-man crews the U.S. uses for the same task.