RED SHIRT, S.D. -- Soldiers from the Kansas Army National Guard and Army Reserve units worked with Task Force 38, Canadian Army, to provide humanitarian support to Native American reservations throughout South Dakota during the Golden Coyote training exercise, June 12-18.
The annual timber haul operation provides an opportunity for military forces to use their training and experience while supporting local Native American communities.
"This mission is really important because it builds relationships between the Native American communities and the National Guard units that support the mission," said Sgt. Shaun Phillips, a truck driver with the 137th Transportation Company, Kansas National Guard.
The 137th coordinated with the Army Reserve's 821st Transportation Battalion and Task Force 38 to load timber at a site near Custer. The timber was then delivered to multiple sites on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations.
"It's great to help other communities and this kind of mission is very similar to the missions we could be tasked with overseas," said Spc. William Curtin, 137th truck driver.
The humanitarian support benefits the community members and provides new training experiences for Soldiers.
"There are narrow, winding roads and various terrain conditions here that provide experience for our drivers and prepares us for different environments," said Phillips. "We're able to practice improvising different kinds of loads safely, using our equipment and operating as a team."
Throughout the Golden Coyote training exercise, about 200 loads of timber were scheduled to be delivered to the local communities.
"It's a good thing, it helps this community and other surrounding communities that need this wood," said Peter Bissonette, a local community member from Red Shirt.
The wood is often used for construction, heating, cooking and ceremonies throughout the year.
"This is the unit's third year participating in this mission and it's rewarding to give back to the communities," said Phillips.