Friday, October 3, 2008

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Awesome Day

Many people I talk with are always so excited about Strykers. Being that I'm not exactly the type to go crazy about any type of vehicle, my sheer delirium while in taking a ride in a Stryker surprised me more than anyone else.

I was sitting down, so I couldn’t see anything but the blue skies above. Anyone just focusing in on my facial expressions would have thought I was on a roller coaster ride. Going over the “bumps” was just so exciting. What felt like bumps, I later found out was actually uneven terrain filled with water and mud. (Thanks 1SG T.)

1SG Thompson (5th MPAD) and I were literally flying high as we rode around in the Stryker. Next to my BMW, this just might be my second favorite off-road vehicle.

--CPT Junel Jeffrey, JMRC Public Affairs Officer

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Zealand Shares their "Cooperative Spirit"

-- Spc. Warren W. Wright, Jr.

JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – Ngati Tumatauenga, the tribe of the God of War. That’s the phrase used in the Maori culture of New Zealand to define their country’s Army.

The New Zealand Army’s history spans 150 years, beginning with small units protecting little more then small villages. Its current force of Territorial and Regular units are key to enhancing the safety and security of the South Pacific, according to the New Zealand Army’s Web site.

In 1965, the New Zealand Army joined the American, British, Canadian and Australian Armies Program as an observer under the sponsorship of the Australian Army. Now, for the first time since their induction as a full member of ABCA in 2006, the New Zealand Army is participating in a test of interoperability between ABCA armies. The name of the test is Cooperative Spirit 2008, a multinational combat training center rotation.

New Zealand, along with the other ABCA armies, are at the Joint Multinational Training Center near Hohenfels, Germany, to train and operate effectively together in the execution of assigned missions and tasks.

Working with ABCA will help the New Zealand Army gain knowledge from the other nations’ experiences as well as open up the opportunity for more training, said New Zealand Army Sgt. Denton F. Paterson, a platoon sergeant in the 2nd / 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

The 2nd /1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment is currently the only light infantry battalion in the New Zealand Army which can trace its lineage back to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in the first World War. At present, the battalion and its sub-units have deployed to operations in multiple regions around the world and have continuously been supporting those operations since 2000.

Now, as a member of ABCA, the unit has the ability to get up to date coalition training and has the opportunity to see how other countries function as well as show those countries how the New Zealand Army operates, said New Zealand Army Sgt. Simon A. Perkins of the 2nd /1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

The 2nd / 1st Battalion has the opportunity to train in a variety of areas, from participating in a live-fire event at the shoothouse compound of the JMRC, to partaking in a full force-on-force exercise while wearing multiple integrated laser engagement system gear. MILES is a detection system worn by Soldiers and their vehicles in a training environment to simulate hits and to perform casualty assessment.

“It’s great training, especially for the younger soldiers who normally wouldn’t get this type of training back home,” said Paterson.

Participation in the ABCA program and in Cooperative Spirit 2008 “can do nothing but good,” he added.

New Zealand will benefit in multiple ways from the training received at the JMRC, said Perkins. From receiving hands-on training to working with helicopters, the unit has the ability to see what the other armies can provide for them as well as show the other nations what the New Zealand Army can offer ABCA. The New Zealand Army has years of experience in providing peace keeping around the world.

“Kiwi’s are very open people and are more then willing to work with other countries,” said Perkins.

With Soldiers like Paterson, who has five tours of duty in various countries, and Perkins, who is a 14-year veteran of the Army, New Zealand’s operational experience around the world and their willingness to share those experiences and their training with allied nations makes the New Zealand Army a valuable addition to the ABCA family.

Doctors brew multinational antidote

-- Pfc. Joshua Sizemore

HOHENFELS, Germany – Healthcare professionals from around the world embrace the credo of Cooperative Spirit 2008 by fostering interoperability for the American, British, Canadian, Australia and New Zealand Armies Program.

Medical units from the ABCA nations, including the “Witch Doctors” from Company C, 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, aim to collectively resolve issues encompassing patient care via an exchange of contemporary medicinal treatments, employed by patient care practitioners worldwide, with the intent of maintaining consistency between all participants.

Australian Army Medical Officer Maj. Mark Harris attached to the1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, supporting this task said, “There are medical advances going on all the time, and they filter down through the national armies. Australians are more than willing participants in this activity, and we welcome any chance to work with coalition partners in this sort of way.”

Harris added that this was a golden opportunity to observe how health centers in other countries administer patient care.

BSB Physician’s Assistant 1st Lt. Christina Campbell, a 30-year old, Sarasota, Fla., native, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for us as medical care providers to work with the providers from different nations. We can learn exactly how we treat the same kind of injuries that we would see (down range) and hopefully share our experiences with each other.”

The ABCA Coalition Aid Station at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center is situated to treat minor ailments, in addition to non-battle injuries regardless of a Soldier’s nationality. It is host to physicians and medics from each member-country.

Drug naming customs are one minor difference shared by each nation. Americans and Canadians prescribe Epinephrine to treat low-blood pressure and low-heart rate. British, Australians and New Zealanders call it Adrenaline. Americans and Canadians commonly administer Tylenol-Paracetamol as the other three nations call it, for fever and minor aches and pains.

Nonetheless, basic care is equivalent to each nation’s protocols. Personnel are able to implement care to any Soldier that enters their door.

“Each country takes care of their Soldiers as they see fit. In an emergency situation, we’re authorized to help that international Soldier as much as possible. Any provider would take care of that Soldier,” Campbell said.

For example, if a British doctor treats an American patient, mandate requires him to notify that Soldier’s chain-of-command by way of a runner who would fetch an American medic.

This environment provides coalition medical personnel an opportunity to exchange information to achieve a multilateral familiarization of the advancing changes in medicine.

“Medical advances progress so quickly that different armies will pick up on different aspects of that at different times,” Harris said. “We can really get our heads together and look at a whole raft of issues. We really have to see people face to face.”

Since the conclusion of World War II, ABCA doctors have been drawn into the mix to work out how to better save lives. Training at the JMRC assists doctors in preparing for combat.

“Unless we’ve done that in this sort of scenario, we’ll never be able to do that when a patient’s life is at risk,” Harris said. “We really need to interface with each other in the field or we won’t be successful.”

Campbell believes that no Soldier is ever fully prepared to confront the brutal realities of war. Only through continual training will her medics be equipped to fulfill their endeavor and save lives once they’ve deployed.

“(We’re learning) good tidbits that we could use and implement into our training and into our patient care. Our main mission is to keep those guys safe and get them back home safely,” Campbell said.

“This is extremely important for our junior Soldiers in the medical field and the ones out there doing maneuvers, because they understand that now, as a part of the different world-wide organizations that America is a part of, we’re working alongside many different countries,” Campbell said. “(Cooperative Spirit 2008) is a step up because everybody here speaks one form or another of English. It gets us a better bond to know that we’re part of a bigger race, the human race, and that we’re all here for the same mission.”

Windswept Aussies soar over JMRC

-- Pfc. Joshua Sizemore

HOHENFELS, Germany – Light infantrymen from Down Under engaged in air mobility insertion operations during Cooperative Spirit 2008 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany, September 25.

The training fosters interoperability between the American, British, Canadian, Australia and New Zealand Armies.

Australian Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), commonly known as the “Big Blue One,” are participating in the ABCA Armies Program.

Helicopters were an ideal method of efficiently transporting large numbers of troops to avoid enemy ground hostility as the allied nations began the force-on-force training.

Exposed to the elements, the groups of infantrymen performed an air mobile insertion maneuver via four helicopters. Their doors flung wide-open for the duration of their flight, across enemy territory, only to dismount and begin patrolling their territory as Stryker vehicles provided over-watch to the position. This method enabled Soldiers to minimize potential losses by traveling in a manner less predictable.

“These guys have really eaten up the opportunity that they’ve had out here, operating in a combined arms environment. This is the type of training, we as commanders, dream about,” Australian Capt. Chris Rohan, second in-command of Charlie Company, said.

The mission began when Soldiers from 9 Platoon, Charlie Company, 1RAR, mounted American Stryker vehicles belonging to 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. Infantrymen from Fort Lewis, Wash., gave them a taste of what it’s like to travel in a Stryker so they could provide security over-watch at the landing zone. The real action was yet to come; the air mobile insertion with UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopters, their doors wide open.

The Aussies rehearsed on a bristling thatch that overlooked the brigade’s operating area. The chill of blustery weather muffled their conversations and nipped at their face and hands. Soldiers wedged into helicopters, bundled hip-to-hip. Their mammoth rucksacks weighed down on their laps and towered over their rose-colored veneers. The view of even the tallest lad obstructed, they leaped out into the prone position.

“I’m hopping on aircraft to go out on a few missions to help the locals that live out in the area,” Australian Pvt. Alexander Turner, currently stationed with 9th Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st BN., Royal Australian Regt., said.

These air-mobile operations are designed to allow Soldiers an opportunity to develop their dexterity in a controlled environment before they perform real-life combat missions. The JMRC is situated to prepare Soldiers for all sorts of battlefield scenarios.

“We’ve seen great improvements in their skill levels over a very short period of time,” Rohan said.

“This will be the highlight for a lot of these Soldiers, including myself,” Rohan continued. “This will certainly be something that I’ll remember for the remainder of my military career.”

This event has been a first for many new Soldiers to interact and build camaraderie with foreign units who they might rendezvous with during future coalition missions.

“The Canadians and the New Zealanders have a lot to say, and we have a lot to say back,” Turner said.

“We’re here to get a better understanding of urban tactics and techniques. We are directing all the people who are coming in on the ‘Hueys.’ When we’re out on patrols and stuff, we’re usually up front letting our section partner know what’s going on,” Australian Forward Scout Pvt. Jake Cellars, 8th Platoon, Charlie Company, 1RAR, said.

By defusing differences and standardizing operational procedures between the allied ground forces, future missions, as well as those that are ongoing, will wrap-up more conclusively.

“I think the realism is a large part of it. Having the opportunity to work amongst our coalition partners and the wide variety of vehicles and air frames whilst they’ve been here is certainly something that they’ll take away from this,” Rohan said. “The observer/controllers bring so much experience with them. Whether it be operating in Iraq or Afghanistan, certainly the lessons that they’ve learned, they’ve certainly passed onto us. It’s been great.”

Soldier turns passion into Army career

-- Spc. Warren W. Wright, Jr.

JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – Inside the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division’s joint operations command building, the computers are up and running. The sounds of Soldiers working diligently fill the small building. They are able to coordinate with their allies and send communications to the various units under their command.

However, if it wasn’t for the hard work and detailed computer knowledge of Staff Sgt. Adam D. Repcik of Long Beach, Calif., the computer communications systems would cease to function.

Repcik, a nine-year veteran of the Army, is an information security officer, responsible for ensuring communication interoperability among the coalition nations involved in Cooperative Spirit 2008, a multinational combat center rotation involving the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand armies.

Interoperability, or the ability of alliance forces to train and operate effectively together in the execution of assigned missions and tasks, is the main reason for ABCA coming together at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany. Interoperability also means software compatibility, and without the computer expertise of Repcik, the test of interoperability would have never been able to happen.

“Part of interoperability is to allow for all the different nations to be able to talk to each other,” said Repcik.

Repcik was able to configure the networks of the nations’ computer systems to ensure that the various commands would have the ability to communicate effectively together and organize their tasks accordingly.

“He’s the type of person who will not quit a job until he’s done,” said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Davis, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the communications and automation section for the 3/2 SBCT headquarters company. “Once finished he’ll look back and ensure it was done properly.”

"He is always confident when it comes to his work,” he added. “He’s always sure about what he’s doing, and if he’s unsure, he won’t do it. He’s not afraid to ask for help.”

Repcik started his career at Fort Gordon, Ga., where he learned to work on the Army’s computers. His current duty station is at Fort Lewis, Wash., where he not only works on the Army’s computer systems, but he also builds computers in his free time, which he has been doing for the past 10 years.

He said he shares his passion for computers in the work place, and he can still see himself doing the same job five years from now, either as a Soldier or as a civilian.

"He’s very intelligent,” Davis added. “He shows it every day by his attitude and his initiative at work. He’s the type of person who never comes into work unhappy or depressed. He’s always in a good mood.”

There are frustrations involved with his job just like any other job in the Army, said Repcik. But so far he has always been able to find the solution to any problem he has encountered and he uses that knowledge to better help him solve similar problems in the future.

Not everyone is able to turn their passion into a career, but Repcik is able to use his enthusiasm for computer systems to help ensure that the 3/2 SBCT, along with its allies, have the ability to operate effectively and ensure success in their missions.

Motor Pool Soldiers Keep the Infantry Fighting

-- Spc. Warren W. Wright, Jr.

JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – Stryker Soldiers are patrolling a potentially hostile area in their signature combat vehicles. The team receives hostile contact and the infantrymen pile out the back and take cover while the Stryker’s mounted weapons system puts rounds on target.

The infantrymen’s job is to train for situations like this, but if it wasn’t for the Soldiers who operate behind the scenes, the infantrymen would have no armored vehicles to ride into combat or a weapons system capable of providing devastating cover fire.

Soldiers like Spc. Michael P. Scharfenberg, a small arms repairer, and Spc. Charles C. Magill, a mechanic, both from Company B, 296th Brigade Support Battalion “Black Knights,” are responsible for keeping the vehicles running and the weapons firing so that the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division can complete their missions and bring their Soldiers home safe.

Scharfenberg and Magill are supporting the training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany, during Cooperative Spirit 2008, which is a multinational combat training center rotation intended to test interoperability among the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand armies.

Magill is able to work on a variety of vehicles due to the Army’s use of interchangeable parts that can be swapped out with any number of various vehicles, he said. Mechanics can work on anything from high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles to wreckers or the brigade’s signature Stryker combat vehicles.

A mechanic’s job is extremely important, added Magill. If it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication of the mechanics in the motor pool, the Strykers and all the other vehicles operated by the Stryker brigade wouldn’t be able to function.

Also working with the “Black Knights” are the weapons repairers. The Strykers have a vast arrangement of weapons systems and sub-systems that must be maintained, said Scharfenberg.

“Before there were trucks, there were guns,” Scharfenberg said proudly. If the small arms repairers like Scharfenberg do not maintain and repair the weapons systems on the Stryker, the Soldiers inside the vehicle would lose invaluable tools needed for the fight.

Interoperability, or the ability of coalition forces to train and operate effectively together, is the main reason for coming together during Cooperative Spirit 2008, however, none of this would be possible without the support of Soldiers like Scharfenberg and Magill.

“If something breaks, you have to have someone available to fix it,” said Spc. Frank J. Nehs, a rifleman from Company A, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. “I just fight, and without them (the support element), I can’t fight.”

Infantrymen take MOUT one step at a time

-- Sgt. B. Wesley Lewis

JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – American infantrymen began the step-by-step process of their military operations in urban terrain training by setting up “glass houses” Sept. 20 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center.

The “glass houses” were the first steps for Company A, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment to train for its live-fire training at the shoot house Sept. 21 at the JMRC.

“Up until about 10-15 years ago, we (American army) concentrated our battle drills on wood line and open areas. We train to prepare our men to win in what will be the center of gravity in future conflicts.” said Company A 1st Sgt. Joel P. Goodine.

The Soldiers used planks of wood and engineer tape to make an outline of the rooms in the shoot house at their motor pool Sept. 20. Using these “glass houses” were the initial approach, allowing Soldiers and leaders to observe those maneuvering through the simulated rooms.

Each platoon took turns leading their Soldiers through the simulated rooms with their assigned weapons and no gear. After the platoon leader and platoon sergeant felt that their Soldiers were confident with navigating the rooms as a unit, Soldiers then put on their helmets and body armor.

The Army refers to its step-by-step approach to training as the “crawl, walk, run” process.

“The ‘crawl, walk, run’ process is a visualization process for each Soldier to ensure they know the task from start to finish and let the leaders know they are ready to complete the task at hand,” said 3rd Platoon Leader 1st Lt. Michael B. Baliles.

The “crawl” phase is the first step in training Soldiers. From this phase, those training infantrymen can gradually increase the size of the unit moving through the simulation, the speed and the amount of stress added through different variables.

Using the “crawl, walk, run” method also allows instructors to gauge how well a unit works together and watch for anything that might endanger themselves or other Soldiers.

Third Platoon Sergeant Staff Sgt. Allen S. Clark, said, “Soldiers build muscle memory by repeating the steps. This way we don’t loose Soldiers in training so we can have them in combat.”

Soldiers’ stress levels went up by adding realism to the scenario at each step. Wearing all of their battle gear, entering rooms that have noncombatants, and taking care of casualties prepares Soldiers for the unpredictable variables that may arise on the battlefield.

The battalion is at the JMRC as part of the ABCA Armies Program along with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to improve training, interoperability, and confidence to prepare Soldiers for future missions.

The repetitiveness of training helps Soldiers deal with combat stress.

“When the stress level is high, we revert back to our basics. The ‘crawl, walk, run’ process makes our decision making process easier.” said Spc. John V. Russell Jr, an infantryman from 3rd Platoon.

Sept. 21 started the next step of training for the company. The day began with Soldiers using blank ammunition to simulate the noise and multiple integrated laser engagement systems to simulate casualties through sirens going off and then ended with Soldiers using live ammunition.

“Anytime you conduct training, you want to train as real as possible. You want your Soldiers to gain confidence and familiarity with using live rounds as well as working with the guy next them,” Ellison said.

The rigorous and repetitive training the unit went through built confidence between leaders and their Soldiers as well as infantrymen and their team mates.

“I expect them (my Soldiers) to have confidence in themselves and be able to trust the man next to them,” said Clark.

After a day and a half of training, Company A prepared themselves for the final stage of their MOUT training, the live-fire.

“It makes it more realistic and makes everyone more cognizant of what is going on around them,” said Staff Sgt. James T. Harris, a squad leader from 3rd platoon.

The unit started at a site away from the shoot house and rolled up in their stryker vehicles, tactically parking for Soldiers to dismount and enter the buildings.

Soldiers dismounted the stryker vehicles, ran to their positions outside the shoot house, and waited for the orders to enter. Once the command was given to enter, Soldiers filed through the doorways just as they trained.

From the outside, the noises heard consisted of sharp instructions from the leaders, doors being bashed open, shots being fired and “room clear” all the way up to the final command of “cease fire.”

The training session ended safely and with the clear result that Soldiers are better trained for urban combat.

“I think prior to the live-fire we trained to perform but the live-fire allowed them to gain confidence due to training with live bullets in a complex scenario,” Goodine said.

Tough, realistic training prepares Soldiers

-- By Spc. Warren W. Wright, Jr.

JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – The scenario starts with members from the 2nd / 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment driving into a small village located on the outskirts of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany.

A helicopter circles the tiny village as the Soldiers move to the local police station to speak with the police chief. During the meeting a member of the community enters the station with information. The citizen informs the soldiers that there’s a hostile enemy located in a building across the village. The soldiers act, setting up a cordon of the village, keeping anyone from entering or leaving the area, and then they begin a search of the small town. A small team moves to the building and surrounds it. Then, with the order to go, they move in and assault the building. A fire fight ensues. Loud pops of gunfire echo through the town. After a short time, the enemy is subdued and the soldiers have completed their mission, they’ve captured their high value target.

While this may sound like a very real scenario, it isn’t. The village, while appearing to be very authentic, is a fake. The small village has been built at JMRC to help train Soldiers in counter-insurgency tactics and drills in a realistic environment.

During the scenario the unit had the opportunity to use a simulated medical evacuation with a real helicopter. The team threw smoke as the Huey helicopter moved into the evacuation site.

The smoke coiled around the blades of the chopper as it came in for a landing. Then, with a brisk movement, the Huey took off and the unit continued on.

Interoperability, or the ability of coalition forces to train and operate effectively together, is the main reason for coming here during this multinational training event, said New Zealand Army 2nd Lt. Tane D. North. “It’s a good chance for each nation to offer their experiences and views.”

The New Zealand Soldiers, out of Burnham, New Zealand, are at JMRC training along side coalition nations during Cooperative Spirit 2008, a multinational Combat Training Center rotation intended to test the interoperability of American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand armies (ABCA).

The New Zealand Army has the skill and the knowledge of being deployed in multiple regions around the world, said Lieutenant North.

Taking part in Cooperative Spirit 2008 is “a great opportunity for us to share where we’ve been and what we’ve done,” he added.

The Soldiers are being coached and mentored by JMRC observer/ controllers, or OCs, while they partake in the training missions. It’s the job of the OC to ensure that all training is conducted safely and that the Soldiers receive the feedback necessary to enhance their skills.

“I wish I could work with them longer,” North said of the U.S. Army’s OCs. “They’ve provided us with some excellent, accurate and awesome feedback.”
Throughout the cordon and search scenario, the OCs gave the battalion various challenges, such as using a sniper in the wood lines and placing the high value target outside the initial cordon line in a building outside the city. The unit reacted accordingly and was able to complete the scenario with success.

The New Zealand Army benefited from using the JMRC training facilities, that have a more realistic touch than the training facilities located in New Zealand, said North.

“When it comes to the training we’ve been receiving here, the only way you can improve it is by making it longer,” said Lieutenant North. “The benefits have been amazing.”

Realism enhances training for ABCA Armies

--By Spc. Matthew A. Thompson

HOHENFELS, Germany-- Australian infantrymen walked into town of Nurgal as their humvees trailed behind. They were in town to meet with the local mayor and police chief to pay respects as their unit moved through the area.

The conversation in the police station was translated through an interpreter covering the topics of supplies and any threats to the village. Their next stop after a quick conversation with the police chief was the hospital. The discussions went well as the police chief, platoon commander and another Soldier walked toward the hospital.

As they approached the hospital, gunshots cut through the air injuring one Soldier. The police chief and his men ran to cover. Insurgents had taken over the hospital preventing anyone from receiving aid. The infantrymen of 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment reacted quickly to eliminate the threat.

“The realism is fantastic,” said Australian Maj. Gordon Wing, Officer Commanding, Combat Team Charlie from the ANZAC Battle Group. “The replication of the two current Middle East theaters is unbelievable ranging from the population to the cultural aspects. It’s like being there without actually being there.”

Their goal, Sept. 18, was to interact with the local leadership and offer assistance to the local population with the help of other coalition nations. A human intelligence collector from 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division accompanied the Australians on their mission to gain intelligence on possible enemy forces in the area.

“It’s a fantastic training opportunity getting to work with various aspects of coalition forces; assets like interpreters and civil military affairs teams,” Wing said.

The battalion is participating in Cooperative Spirit 2008 an American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Armies (ABCA) Program interoperability activity at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, near Hohenfels, Germany.

Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Parker, an observer/controller with the Vampire O/C team, said the Australians are really good. They had little trouble adapting from light infantry role to mechanized infantry, demonstrating they can adapt very well.

He said the Australians take our tactics, techniques and procedures and use them for what they do.

“What we see isn’t much different than what we see with American Soldiers, from their stacks, to breaching objectives and assaults,” Parker said. “There’s a quick strike to it. They’re very effective once they get inside. They leave no room for error.”

The Australians entered the hospital and with surgical precision took down the gunmen inside who were preventing the villagers of Nurgal from receiving medical treatment. A thorough inspection of the facilities revealed a weapons cache, an assembled bomb and bomb making materials.

Not everything they do is the same as the Americans though, Parker said. “They do different things that we can learn and pass on to our counterparts in the U.S. Army. The way they do an assault or questioning is a little different, and we can learn from that.”

Australian Sgt. Richard William Chapman, the platoon sergeant for 4th platoon, Bravo Company compared the training and operating with other coalition partners to a football match.

“You gotta pick the best. On the battlefield you’ve got your teams and everyone has to know where they are slotted in,” Chapman said. “The Australians may be the forwards and the Americans the backs running the ball. Each aspect of the team has to know where they’re slotted in to enhance that particular mission or goal.”

Following the action, the villagers of Nurgal again have a hospital that can be used for its’ proper purpose, now that the insurgents presence in the village was eliminated. With their mission in the town wrapped up, the Australians climbed into the vehicles and headed back to their base camp.

A Kiwi assault

-- By Spc. Matthew A. Thompson

HOHENFELS, Germany—The vehicles pulled quickly into the area. Dirt and mud flew in all directions as tires spun. Just as quickly they came to a stop, Soldiers poured out of the vehicles. Weapons were held at the ready and aimed at the windows and doors where the enemy shot.

Racing to get to cover, the Soldiers returned fire and forced the enemy to duck or die.

Soldiers with 5th Platoon Bravo Company, 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment assaulted a mock Afghan village during training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, near Hohenfels, Germany, Sept. 18.

During the situational training lanes, the Kiwis acted as a quick reaction force that had to respond to reports of enemy forces in the area. Their job was to enter and clear buildings, capture or kill the enemy and search them for information.

“It is good learning. Our first time out we had a few points (to improve), by the second time we rectified them,” said 2nd Lt. Alphe Kennedy, a 19-year-old platoon commander with 5th platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd/1st Royal New Zealand Regiment.

U.S. Army Soldiers serving as observer controllers watched over the New Zealand Soldiers as they performed the training in the village. After they finished, the O/Cs evaluated the Kiwis on their performance.

“They have their way of doing things and their experiences,” Kennedy said. “We can take it and add it to the tool box.”

Other New Zealand Soldiers found the training to be a little difficult because it was different. Pvt. Jacque Wirihanae Hore, a rifleman with 5th platoon said, working side by side with the Americans helped the New Zealanders learn new skills.

The New Zealand Soldiers are here as part of the American, British, Canadian Australian and New Zealand’s Armies program interoperability test.

ABCA’s test may not be the only time some of these countries and Soldiers work together. New Zealand has worked alongside the Australian Army in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. There is also a Provincial Reconstruction team deployed to Afghanistan.

“With the way the world is going, it looks like we’ll be working together a long time,” Kennedy said.

No matter where they deploy or train the New Zealand Army is motivated to get the job done.

“New Zealand’s here, doing it hard, doing it Kiwi style,” Kennedy said. “Kura Takahi Puni, we are ready!”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Travels of the Blue Monkey

by: Captain Marie-Noelle Blanchet, Canadian Public Affairs Officer

Sometime you have to dig deep to find the most amazing stories. By talking with people and simply taking a break from the "war", and by simply sitting and listening to what they have to say, you are able to share a small part of their experiences and their traditions. As a public affairs officer, I have to admit that I love to tell stories of the people I meet. In fact, telling the Canadian Forces Story is my primary mission. But the ones I like the most are the human stories that comes from the Soldiers themselves, like the Blue Monkey Story. The story is about a cute little stuffed animal that was once given to a soldier by an 8 year old little girl in 1998. Today, the Blue Monkey has become a legend. He is part of the history of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment and many, many other people.

The Blue Monkey gets around, and in doing so has a become a legend.

It all started in Gagetown, New-Brunswick (Canada), when a young soldier, Corporal Brian Brophy, had a severe accident that nearly put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Thank God, today Brian Brophy is walking, but unfortunately may never fully recover from his injuries. In 1999, Brian was supposed to be deployed to Yugoslavia, along with his best pal, Corporal Steven McCormick, and the rest of the 2 RCR Soldiers. Not physically fit for the deployment, Brian had to stay back. Too young to understand, Brian’s Daughter, Morgan, did not want her father's best friend Steven to be all alone in a foreign country. She decided to send a care package to him, a little blue stuffed monkey.

That day, when Steven received the package, he made a promise to Morgan; to make the Blue Monkey famous.

Since then, the Blue Monkey has traveled considerably. He has now been deployed in Germany, and has been to Yugoslavia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Eritrea. Making some believe that the monkey is entitled to Canada's peace keeping mission medal. In 2010, he will be entitled to his country's Canadian Defense Medal as well. the Blue Monkey has traveled around the world. Missions, R&R (short period of rest during a deployment), HLTA (leave days during a deployment), and even on the personal vacations of Canadian Forces members. Just to name a few: the Blue Monkey has been to Orlando, Toronto, Montreal, Budapest, Ethiopia, Thailand, Las Vegas, Amsterdam, England, Scotland and has took a bath in the lake where supposedly lives the Loch Ness Monster. He has also completed some military qualification courses such as the the TQ4 Motorcycle dispatch course taken in Borden, Canada, and a few years ago he completed his Light Armored Vehicle course, where he was given his camouflage poncho. Several of his military buddies consider him very brave for his attactive blue color makes him a potential target for enemy. In the near future, he will jump out of an airplane and get his Airborne Wings.

Everywhere he goes there a picture to document his adventures. He is more than just a stuffed animal, the Blue Monkey is famous, but he symbolizes the life and stories of our Canadian Soldiers, their families and their friends. He symbolizes 'friendship.' If you see a Canadian Soldier, ask him about the Blue Monkey and he might have a picture of him somewhere in a souvenir box or on his computer. If you are lucky enough to see the Blue Monkey ask him where he is going next. You can be sure that will be keeping a Canadian Soldier from feeling lonely.

Morgan would be proud.