***image1***From the Cold War to Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO forces have worked, trained and fought together for the past 60 years. And when the soldiers of Kaiserslautern’s 191st Ordnance Battalion scheduled a two week rotation at the
Joint Multinational Readiness Training Center,
they invited some friends.
“The (Bundeswehr) 462nd Logistics Battalion is our partnership unit,” said Lt. Col. Ron Pacheco, 191st commander. “And we invited them to send
a company-sized element of their Soldiers to train with us. It’s a great opportunity for our guys and their guys to learn from each other and build a rapport. That synergy could definitely pay off in
the long run in places like Afghanistan. And it’s just great to train together.
That sentiment was echoed by every Soldier involved in the Hohenfels training, whether German or American. The training included live fire and simulated combat training exercises, and real world tasks like vehicle maintenance, medical support and food service.
The minor differences between the two organizations were actually the best part of the training for many. Specialist Byron Goodwin, a mechanic with the 191’s 5th Maintenance Company, said they were his favorite part of the exercise. “It’s been amazing seeing what they use (to repair vehicles) and how their systems are different than ours.”
Learning to operate like a well-oiled machine is essential in a combat environment, and a good deal of time was spent working together to react to threats such as insurgent ambushes, improvised explosive devices and a variety of unexpected events. Convoy procedures and reaction drills were essential to improving the Soldiers’ skills in their wartime mission as logisticians.
Those skills were put to the test during the Simulated Training Exercises later in the rotation. The scenario involved joint U.S. and German supply convoys traveling through insurgent territory to deliver food, water, and other supplies to the local population and coalition forces. Civilians on the battlefield, IEDs, unknown vehicles, and insurgent ambushes taught Soldiers important lessons that could one day save their lives.
Bundeswehr and U.S. Army troops developed new techniques together and usually operated side-by-side in the convoys. And when the shooting started, all reacted and responded quickly to the threat.
After each exercise, Soldiers and leaders gathered to discuss what actions could have been taken to minimize the threat or to better respond to the attacks. At times, thinking outside of doctrine provided unique solutions to unique problems and threats. After all, insurgents don’t operate by a rule book.