By Ms. Sylvia Williams (IMCOM)August 25, 2010
CHIEVRES, Belgium - Soldiers from the German Support Unit Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and U.S. Army Soldiers from 39th Signal Battalion, 128th Signal Company, the SHAPE Health Clinic, U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen and U.S. Army Garrison Benelux partnered together during a joint training operation on SHAPE and at Camp Elsenborn in Belgium August 12, 17 and 18.
The multinational force experienced challenging and realistic land navigation training and infantry rifle squad/platoon level tactics during the three-day exercise.
"I have navigated through a lot of different terrains in my career," said Staff Sgt. Ryan S. Lowe from the Directorate of Emergency Services, USAG Benelux. "But the terrain of Camp Elsenborn was unbelievably difficult to maneuver through - literally every other step of the way was some new obstacle or deep pool of water to push over or through," he added.
The group was split into four mixed squads of ten U.S. and German Soldiers for the entire training in order to enhance the multinational aspect of the experience. Soldiers from both nations could learn from each other and bond over those three days.
"Working with the German forces and sharing some of our tactics with them is a good way to strengthen the relationships that we have in our international community," said Lowe.
"Such joint training is important because in today\'s military we work as UN or NATO force," commented Capt. Alden Chavarria, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 39th Signal Battalion. He further explained "In Afghanistan and Iraq - that's what we are doing. We are working jointly, so it's important to do joint training."
But the operation was not just all about hands-on training in the field. The service members were also instructed in a classroom environment in topics like movement techniques and establishment of an objective rally point, leader's recon and assault of an objective as well as land navigation to make sure, that Soldiers from both nations had the same knowledge that was necessary for the final field exercise in Camp Elsenborn, August 18.
Once arrived at the Belgian training site, right at the German border, each squad was dropped off at a different location within the camp.
The Soldiers had to move to a central point using their land navigation skills and establish an objective rally point. The training mission was to conduct a raid of a predetermined objective and kill or capture the leader of the enemy forces.
"Despite the Belgian rain, it was a good time and everybody learned something," said Lowe.
The main focus of the three-day training was to give the Soldiers a chance to further their military knowledge, both tactical and technical, and train together under the "NATO Star", said Sgt. 1st Class Torben Ritz, training liaison of the German Support Unit SHAPE.