SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. — Michigan Soldiers will travel to Latvia to participate in a military exercise this month as part of a continuing effort to nurture the Michigan Army National Guard’s partnership with the Baltic nation’s armed forces.
The Soldiers represent the 177th Military Police Brigade, including its engineering and chemical response units, and are operating in conjunction with the United States Army Europe through Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The exercise, named “Silver Arrow,” is a Latvian military led exercise bringing together militaries from four nations, including the U.S.
During Silver Arrow, Michigan Soldiers will train with the Latvian professional military and its Zemmezarde (Reserve) forces in a variety of training activities from the tactical to the technical.
“The Zemmezardes were interested in engineer officers at the battalion headquarters doing engineer planning,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Jeannotte, 107th Engineer Battalion, Ishpeming.
The cooperative training activities will include such technical skills as minefield breaching, obstacle clearing, route clearance, area check and clearing, bridging, and demolition.
“The Latvians have an explosive ordinance disposal school that they rotate a lot of their engineers through,” said Jeannotte, “our Sappers, they have explosive ordinance qualified Soldiers. It’s one of the things where it’s one of the focal points that engineers are proud of- their meat and potatoes.”
Of particular interest will be the demolition of a civilian building, a mission from which the Michigan engineers expect to learn a lot from their Latvian counterparts, as these types of demolitions are not typically a combat engineer mission.
This effort is only the latest in a long series of partnership activities that have previously seen the Latvian military training with their Michigan counterparts at Camp Grayling and various Michigan Army National Guard personnel throughout all corners of Latvia.
Jeannotte was a member of the first group involved in the State Partnership Program with Latvia and has seen its evolution to the strong exchanges enjoyed today.
“Each time I’ve gone over there it’s definitely more and more involved,” said Jeannotte, “I’m kind of new coming into Silver Arrow, but from what I can see, it’s definitely stepping to the next level.”
Although much of the State Partnership Program’s exchanges center around technical and tactical cooperative training, one of the program’s primary goals is to promote mutual cultural understanding, a mission that has proved especially successful in the past.
“As a private, when I first got into the guard, we had a small detachment of Latvian soldiers training with us in Grayling,” said Sgt. Corey Brown, an engineer with the 1433rd Engineer Company, Augusta, “We learned a lot from each other and had a good exchange.”
“You see a lot of the strengths and characteristics from our National Guard as citizen-soldiers, a lot of the difficulties we go through are the same things they deal with,” said Jeannotte.
The Michigan Army National Guard Soldiers will remain in Latvia through the first week of October.
Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/142983/michigan-army-national-guard-soldiers-join-operation-silver-arrow#.VCvxwL4fIso#ixzz3EtZKo0VI
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Story by Capt. Douglas Halleaux, 126 Press Camp Headquarters, Michigan National Guard