BOISE, Idaho - The Idaho Army National Guard embraced global partnerships this year by sending 11 Soldiers overseas to live and train with select foreign allied nations, in addition to hosting nine foreign soldiers stateside as part of the Department of Defense Military Reserve Exchange Program.

For 33 years the program has facilitated unique training exchanges between members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve with those of the German Army, United Kingdom Territorial Army, Danish Home Guard and Estonian Army who travel to participate in a hosting unit's two-week annual training.

"The strategic goal of this program is for allied foreign military units to work together to fight and win future conflicts," said Capt. Ryan Batt, 1-148th Field Artillery Regiment project officer. "This is accomplished by fostering international and allied relationships down to the lowest level with an exchange of military skills."

The experience offers Guardsmen and reservist the opportunity for professional development and enhancement of interoperability skills while preparing them for future deployments overseas. At the same time the program enables the National Guard to build its partnership capacity, strengthen relations with NATO allies and foster international security cooperation.

This was the first time the Idaho Army National Guard has participated in the program. From May to September, it sent nine Soldiers belonging to the 1-148th FAR, one Soldier from the 183rd Assault Helicopter Battalion and one Soldier from the 1-112th Aviation Regiment to either Germany, Denmark or the U.K.

In return, the organization hosted eight Soldiers from the U.K. and one Soldier from Germany who either trained with the 1-148th FAR, the 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion or the 183rd AHB during various annual training exercises between June and August.

Exchanges included approximately 15 days of field training where participants traded specific skills relating to wartime duties. They were paired with counterparts who shared similar military occupational specialties, such as a paladin gunner with the crew of an artillery unit and a medic with a member of a field hospital.

AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE

Sgt. Jacob Brown, a medic with the 1-148th FAR, was assigned to a field hospital during his exchange with a medical unit from the U.K. The unit was tasked to set up a large field hospital and later graded on its ability to treat casualties. The mission was comparable to an Army National Guard eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation, said Brown, which helps to validate a unit's efficiency in completing combat tasks.

During the exercise, Brown assisted the unit and his international counterpart, a nurse practitioner, in admitting various casualties by taking vital signs and making initial stabilizations.

"The experience was amazing," said Brown. "The first day I showed up I was integrated into their unit right away and immediately felt like one of them, just wearing a different uniform."

In most cases, those same international counterparts travelled stateside to participate in a reciprocal training event with the unit of their U.S. counterpart.

Brown's counterpart joined his unit in June during its annual training in the Idaho Army National Guard's Orchard Combat Training Center. There she was integrated into the battalion aid station as a midlevel provider working with medical personnel to support three field artillery batteries.

Brown said both exchanges gave him and his counterpart the ability to learn another military's operations as well as the opportunity to learn and improve upon existing limitations.

"The way of the future is that we are going to do a lot more operations overseas with our coalition forces," said Brown. "This program is about learning each other's styles and limitations. Communication is a lot different between the two organizations and we can improve that by continuing exercises like these."