By Spc. Kate McGrath,
Company C, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Every now and then the Army is granted the opportunity to work with another well-trained force. On the morning of Oct. 16, soldiers from C Company, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment met with soldiers from the Kuwaiti Training Battalion, 25th Commando Brigade to execute an urban operations cross-training exercise.
The training took place at a mock village here, and it allowed Soldiers and their leaders to display their tactics and methods, as well as create cohesive relationships among the ranks.
In addition to taking over security-force operations in northern Kuwait in April, the battalion, which belongs to the South Carolina Army National Guard, also assumed a training partnership with the Kuwaiti Military - one of the region's best led, trained, and equipped military organizations.
After initial greetings were established, leadership from both sides gathered to discuss what they hoped to accomplish for the day. The idea was to show the differences between the two units as they assaulted the objective.
"The purpose of the training was for commanders to use comparative analysis of the two nations' standard operating procedures in order to augment or modify their own tactical protocols for urban environments," said 1st Lt. Maurice Merritt, of Wichita, Kansas, the 4th Battalion officer-in-charge of the exercise.
Before the training commenced, the two units stayed in their respective areas, talking among themselves, adjusting their gear and getting into a tactical mindset. A healthy competition was in the air, with each side wanting to impress the other.
"The relationship, as units work together, allows commanders to see, collaborate and exchange ideas to provide a solid partnership between allies," said Maj. Harry Bird, of Charleston, S.C., the 4th Battalion operations officer.
The teams took turns moving through the mock village with ease, executing their room and building clearing procedures. Both units agreed that they observed new techniques that could possibly be integrated into their future methods.
"From what I observed, the commandos had all the elements of an aggressive, assertive fighting force -- violence of action and speed of maneuver were key points in their exercise," said Company C soldier Spc. David A.L. Brown, of Charleston, S.C. "By contrast, the U.S. soldiers utilized more free-flowing tactical movements, and a more conservative application of force, influenced by our nation's rules of engagement."
There was a slight language barrier between the two forces, though with verbal cues and hand gestures, common ground was found in both their tactics and decision-making processes. It was evident that there are many ways to reach a common goal, and many methods of approach.
"Communication was important for us, as well as them," Merritt said. "We realized that we just have different methods of communicating, but we accomplished the same goal."
It was noted that the commandos' sniper-check procedures and protocols for crossing a linear danger area were obviously well-rehearsed and unique to their environment.
"It's important to cross-train with local forces because they have the advantage of terrain experience," Brown said. "These Kuwaiti soldiers grew up, live, and continue to train in one of the world's harshest desert regions. Their tactics, techniques, and procedures are based on their successes and failures in this climate. They know what works here, and what won't."
"By continuing to teach and learn from the international community, we can maximize our effectiveness on any terrain, in any climate, and under any circumstances," Merritt said.
By the end of the exercise, both sides were mingling and discussing their many similarities, and some soldiers exchanged unit patches with the commandos as a sign of friendship.
"I think this experience was very beneficial for the soldiers, due to the fact that it allows them to develop as leaders," Merritt said. "With today's conflicts, you never know who you will be fighting next to in your foxhole."