[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                       August 8, 2008
Training

British soldiers join forces with 
Georgia National Guard at McCoy

By Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy, National Guard Bureau

During exercise Patriot ’08, a variety of uniforms were worn by those taking part in the exercise. While many easily recognized the Army Combat Uniform and the Airman Battle Uniform, there was one group of soldiers wearing a uniform that was entirely different and unfamiliar to most.

Photo: Soldiers with the British Army’s 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, head out on a foot patrol during Patriot ’08 at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy)
Soldiers with the British Army’s 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, head out on a foot patrol during Patriot ’08 at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy)

Soldiers from the Georgia Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery Regiment hosted a company of soldiers from the British Army’s 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, during the exercise as part of a soldier-swap program the two units have taken part in for the last few years.

For some of the Georgia Soldiers, it was their first time working with the British troops, and they noticed many similarities between the British and U.S. forces.

"The techniques they use are almost exactly the same as the American Army, with just slight, little differences," said Staff Sgt. Steven Johnsrud, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery Regiment. "They’re a little more rigid in their SOPs than we are, but all-in-all the way they do things is almost exactly the same. Their operations orders are identical. Their arm and hand signals are almost identical."

One of the main differences was the use of the chain of command.

"Their chain of command is a little bit more rigid then ours," said Johnsrud, who served as the training NCO liaison between the British and the United States. "The sections will take their orders from the section sergeants, always. The platoon sergeant gives the orders to the section sergeants, the platoon leader will give the order to the platoon sergeant. They’re a little more rigid, where oftentimes in the American Army, the captain will say, ‘Corporal, go tell everybody this.’"

Another one of those differences was when it came to physical training.

"Their PT, physical training, is different than ours in that it is heavily focused on foot marching," said Johnsrud. "If the sergeant major said we’re walking in, they’d grab their gear, nothing to it. I have a feeling that these (soldiers) would out-walk a (U.S.) Ranger company and walk them right into the ground."

For some of the British soldiers, the differences were most notable not in the tactics and techniques of the two armies, but the weather.

"I’m not used to the heat," said British Sgt. Maj. Garry Smith, who trained with these Soldiers last year at Fort Stewart, Ga. "I think it was hotter in Georgia though."


"The techniques they use are almost exactly the same as the American Army, with just slight, little differences."

Staff Sgt. Steven Johnsrud,
Training NCO Liaison,
1st Battalion,
118th Field Artillery Regiment

Even so, the weather didn’t put a damper on things. "The training is the same," said Smith. "I’ve enjoyed everything. I love being in the field anyway. I could stay out in the field for weeks. I love it."

And Smith’s soldiers agreed. 

"The village (used for training on Military Operations in Urban Terrain) over there is fantastic," said British Pvt. Robert Parkinson. "We did an assault in it yesterday. We were the first assaulting team to break into the buildings, and they played music like you were in Iraq or Afghanistan. And you’ve got these pyrotechnics where it’s like an incoming round and the pyrotechnics just explode. Me and my friend were the last two into the building and (an incoming round simulator) went off and it was like shrapnel flying off. I looked at him and was like ‘there’s shrapnel.’"

But the training itself was only one thing that Smith said he hoped his soldiers would get out of the experience.

"Quite a few of them have never been out of England in their lives," he said. "So it’s an adventure with the traveling and seeing a different culture and working with a different nation. I think they’ll be talking about this for a long time to come."

And that’s all part of the experience, said Johnsrud, who will be going to England in September with members of his unit to train with the British, which is something he said he is looking forward to.

"Their attitudes are absolutely amazing," he said. "It’s truly been really great working with them. Like I said, when you’re working with dedicated and motivated professionals, it’s always a pleasure. Always. I don’t care where it is, what branch, what service, what country, people are people, good ones are good."

 

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