OGRE, Latvia - Latvian high school students at the Ogre Valsts Gimnāzija were taught an English class at their school by Soldiers from the Michigan Army National Guard Monday morning as part of a cultural exchange organized by the Latvian Ministry of Defense.
The Soldiers: Lt. Col. John Hall, Capt. Charles Calio, Spc. John Brandenburg and Spc. Seth LaCount met with the Latvian students for approximately two hours and discussed a wide-range of topics including the educational system in the United States, study and work opportunities in the U.S. and the various aspects of serving in the United States military.
The Michigan Army National Guard delegation was lead by Lt. Col. John C. Hall, commander of the 126th Press Camp Headquarters, Fort Custer, Michigan, who is currently spending approximately two months in Latvia in support of several, joint training events involving the United States, Latvia and their NATO allies.
Hall, a teacher at Kearsley High School in Flint, Michigan enjoyed the interaction with Latvian students stating, “My favorite part was seeing the excitement the kids demonstrated when talking about education and also about the common factors that unite the United States and Latvia. The kids were very knowledgeable about the United States and many demonstrated an interest in studying and living in America upon completing high school.”
Spc. Seth LaCount, a Soldier under Hall’s command at the 126th Press Camp, also came away impressed by the Latvian students, “The kids were genuinely interested in American culture and I was impressed with their breadth of knowledge and their keen insight into the importance of the relationship between Latvia and the United States.”
Ogre Valsts Gimnāzija is a school in Ogre, located approximately 36 km from Riga, the capitol of Latvia. Students must pass a rigorous exam to be accepted at the school, and some of the students continue their education in the United States and countries within the European Union.
The Michigan National Guard and the Republic of Latvia have a 22 year relationship as a part of the Department of Defense state partnership program.
The Michigan National Guard Soldiers arrived in Riga, Latvia in mid-May to train with the Latvian Military to improve joint operations and capabilities of the Shadow Unmanned Aerial System. This training will continue through June when the Shadow team will participate in a series of multi-national training events to include Namejs, Flaming Sword and culminating with Operation Sabre Strike.
Saber Strike is a U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)-directed, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM)-scheduled, U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR)-led theater security cooperation exercise that will be conducted at locations throughout the Baltic, including the Riga and the Adazi training areas in Latvia. The exercise will consist of a host nation-supported command post exercise (CPX), a brigade-level CPX/computer assisted exercise (CAX), and a field training exercise (FTX) with a situational training exercise (STX) component. The exercise will feature the integration of U.S. close support with partner nation ground forces and a demonstration of air deployment of forces and equipment. Saber Strike 14 will be conducted June 9-20, 2014.
Story by Capt. Charles G. Calio, 46th Military Police Command, Michigan National Guard