By Spc. Jacob Hester-HeardMarch 11, 2019
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - National Guard and Reserve Soldiers conducted an Observer Controller / Trainer Academy in preparation for Dynamic Front 19 at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Feb. 18-20.
Dynamic Front is an annual U.S. Army Europe exercise focused on the readiness and interoperability of U.S. Army, joint service, and allied and partner nations' artillery and fire support working together in a multinational environment.
U.S. Army Cpt. James Nelson, a fire control officer with the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Texas Army National Guard, has already trained alongside soldiers from Italy, Hungary, and France. Dynamic Front is providing him another opportunity to train with a country that has a strong relationship with the Texas Army National Guard.
"Our state partners are the Czech Republic, and we'll be working with them," Nelson said. "It will be nice to make contacts with them, so when we have future exercises together the language barrier is broken down and we're able to communicate effectively."
Beyond the opportunities to network and build lasting partnerships, Nelson stressed how he's grown personally and professionally with our NATO allies and partner nations.
"This experience has made a tremendous impact on my progression as a Soldier, it helps me see what other units and other countries do in artillery," Nelson said. "I can see tactics, techniques and procedures they use, take those lessons learned back to my unit at home and apply those, so we can become better artillerymen and better Soldiers."
A number of Soldiers at the academy have participated in Dynamic Front previously. U.S. Army Cpt. Dale A. Boughton, the personnel officer for the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment, Illinois Army National Guard, is making his second consecutive trip.
"Last year, Dynamic Front was my first time overseas," Boughton said. "It was a really great experience, just being exposed so many nationalities and so many different types of cultures."
Boughton expressed his experiences during Dynamic Front have been incredibly developmental of his military career, by being able to pass that experience and knowledge to his Soldiers.
"This has made me more ready, reliable and relevant by expanding my knowledge," Boughton said, "not only as a Guardsman but also my sphere of influence."
Boughton has peers in other states, some of whom also attended last year's exercise. Now, he is able to reach out to these Soldiers, see how they do things and communicate best practices.
"This has been an outstanding opportunity, not only adding to my network of Soldiers stateside but seeing other cultures firsthand," Boughton said. "That's something you can read about, but you don't really get it until you experience it."