BAHRAIN -- U.S. Army Soldiers from Operation Spartan Shield participated in force protection training drills in conjunction with their Bahrain Defense Force counterparts at a local installation here, May 9, 2017.
Their performance in responding to Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, suspicious persons, objects and crowds was evaluated by both local U.S. Navy and Bahraini officers.
"I want my people to be like you," said Col. Jumal R. Ahmed, head of the Joint Exercise Department, discussing the benefit of the combined force protection exercises. "This exercise is an opportunity to learn from our close friends and their field experiences. The Bahrain Defense Force will continue to work our American allies for the benefit of both countries."
Capt. Kellen Petersen, Company Commander, "Chosen" Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, planned the exercises while 2nd Lt. Dan Hopkins, Officer-In-Charge of security operations, led the Soldiers in carrying out the response drills.
"It was a great opportunity to break the culture barrier," said Hopkins. "We coordinated with our friendlies [the Bahrain Defense Force] and built a stronger relationship with them."
Communication both internally and across the language barrier was one of the challenges raised by training participants during the event's after-action review. One participant suggested developing an English/Arabic translation list for commonly used terms.
Sailors from U.S. Navy Central Command, who evaluated the training, were pleased with the results and motivated by the opportunity.
"[This was a] great opportunity for our multi-service security forces…to practice and refine our force protection procedures with our Host Nation partners in real world scenarios. This exercise has given us multiple opportunities to interact with our Bahraini counterparts and will undoubtedly pay huge dividends in the future," said Navy Capt. Lee Boyer, one of the training evaluators.
Brig. Gen. John Epperly, 29th Infantry Division's Deputy Commander, and Division Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Smith explained that the training event both increases tactical capabilities and strengthens regional ties. This exercise was one of many that have taken place over several months in Gulf Cooperation Council nations.
"I'm emotionally invested in rehearsals," said Capt. Petersen. "Your plan can be garbage, but if you rehearse, you are prepared for these kinds of eventualities. We are aware that we're part of a larger organization and happy to add to the brigade mission as a whole."