HOHENFELS, Germany - Soldiers assigned to Kentucky Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 29th Infantry Division, reacted to improvised incendiary weapons during multinational fire phobia training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Feb. 11.
The training, hosted by members of the Slovenian military, involved reacting to Molotov cocktails and simulated rioting during a mission rehearsal exercise before the 1-149th Infantry Battalion’s deployment to the Balkan region.
The Slovenian military familiarized the Kentucky Soldiers with tactics to respond to riots and civil unrest should they encounter such a situation while deployed.
“The purpose of the training is to help better prepare our Soldiers in the event that any type of flammable material is deployed against us in a crowd control setting,” said Sgt. Matthew Joseph, an infantryman assigned to Charlie Company, 1-149th Infantry Battalion.
The fire phobia training equips Soldiers with the skills and confidence to maintain order and carry out their mission.
“The most challenging aspect of the training was overcoming the initial fear,” Joseph said.
The trainers stressed the importance of the defensive stance by assisting and adjusting Soldiers to ensure proper positioning.
“Being able to realize that you have gear and equipment that can help sustain you from those types of threats and learning how to use it properly, along with the techniques that the Slovenians taught us, was valuable,” Joseph said.
Spc. Daniel Sparks, an infantryman assigned to Charlie Company, 1-149 Infantry Battalion, said having faith in the trainers and the equipment got him through the training.
“Your equipment works, and you do what they tell you, and everything turns out right,” Sparks said.
For Sparks, training alongside the partner nations added to the exercise.
“It’s really cool, and I like learning techniques that they use that are different from ours,” he added. “I came out with a better understanding of how to deal with that threat.”
“I really enjoyed the training, and I think everyone else did as well,” said Joseph. “I think this really builds cohesion within the unit when we do these types of training events.”
The Citizen-Soldiers of the 116th IBCT are in Germany training for their upcoming deployment to Kosovo, where they will work with NATO partners to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all.