By Ms. Marie Berberea (TRADOC)April 7, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla. -- As North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies it's very important for relations between Germany and the United States to remain strong. A group of German soldiers are stationed across the different U.S. Army centers of excellence to act as liaisons reason for that very reason.
"It is an important job because we are representing our country here," said Sgt. Maj. Mario Achhammer, German Army Liaison Staff Field Artillery.
The 15 two-man teams are comprised of either a colonel or lieutenant colonel and a sergeant major. The sergeants major are ensuring that bond is maintained as they held their annual German Sergeants Major Conference. This year's conference was held at the Fires Center of Excellence March 21 through 25.
"When it comes to exchanging technical information, the Germans have a footstep here on the ground near the American Soldiers so we can face problems and solve them directly and immediately," said Achhammer.
Their weeklong trip began with a historical view of the post and a very interesting old post corral ride with the Fort Sill Field Artillery Half Section.
"It was exciting," said Sgt. Maj. Frank Bergander, as he noted that his horse was constantly eating during the ride. "I guess my daughter is proud of me. She is the professional rider in our family. She gave me advice on Saturday -- you know heels down and everything, but I guess I lost 85 percent of what she said."
Afterward the group met with the Comanche Nation tribe to learn about the American Indian culture unique to the Fort Sill area. The group also learned what all the booms were about as they explored the field artillery and air defense artillery training.
"Just like our infantry and our armor brothers our field artillery brothers have to understand what it is they bring to the battlefield and how to integrate the fires with maneuvers," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal, chief of the field artillery and commandant of the FA school.
"It's very impressive," said Sgt. Maj. Frank Zindel, German Army liaison staff. "I'm a tanker so I've never seen a simulation like this."
Zindel had just stepped outside of the Close Air Support Module in the Joint Fires and Effects Trainer System.
"This is a great opportunity to train Soldiers. They practice and try to give them the same environment that they fight in and that's a good idea," said Zindel.
The partnership between the two countries is apparent, as Germany and the United States are two of 16 nations contributing to the 11,000 soldiers in Regional Command North in Afghanistan. They are partnered with Afghan National Security Forces to provide not only a safer nation but also to develop governance and socio-economic programs.
Achhammer said when fighting a common enemy it is very important for the different military forces to know and understand one another's procedures. Germany also recently announced it was sending more troops to Afghanistan to ease the pressure of its NATO allies, including the United States, as they head into Libya.
"We meet once a year with all the sergeants major, and it's very important that everybody has the same level of information which is not always coming from Germany into the United States. It's more important that we have all the information we need from the German side here, and that's the reason for the conference," said Achhammer.
The last German Sergeants Major Conference at Fort Sill was in 2003. Next year's conference will be at Fort Rucker, Ala.