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By MI National Guard | Partnerships and Programs

Michigan Army National Guard successfully completes overseas training

By Maj. Charles CalioSeptember 24, 2017

SENNELAGER TRAINING AREA, Germany - When C. Company, 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment (C-1-125IN) arrived at Sennelager Training Area (STA), Germany on Sept. 10, 2017, a few things were certain: everyone was excited to be training with tankers from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry (RWxY), but nobody from Charlie Co. new quite what to expect or what challenges they may face.

Despite the uncertainty, the overseas duty training at STA was extensive, and resulted in a great deal of beneficial learning experiences. To begin with, C-1-125IN trained on and then qualified with the British Army's primary assault rifle, the SA80. They then trained their British counterparts on the operation of and qualification on the American M4 rifle.

"It was awesome to train on the SA80," said Capt. John Roland, commander of C-1-125IN. "You never know what can happen in combat, and if we are ever in a position to have to use the SA80, our Soldiers will have the confidence that comes with having learned about and trained on the SA80, and that could mean the difference between life and death."

"Training our U.K. counterparts on the M4 was fun, but also resulted in great training for our Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class William Call, C-1-125IN's acting first sergeant. "Any time you train others, you become sharper and better at what you do because you are required to go back to basics, and ensure you fully understand and have mastery of the material you are teaching."

Because it received new components for its M4s, C-1-125IN also zeroed its weapons and ensured the proper functioning of the new components. After zeroing weapons, a vital component of Charlie Co.'s yearly training objectives were completed on Sept. 15th when it successfully conducted a platoon live fire exercise, perhaps one of the most important training requirements for any infantry company.

"I'm ecstatic with the amount of training that was completed in such a short period of time," said Lt. Col. Raymond Stemitz, commander of 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment (1-125IN). "The focus and training intensity during the live fire exercise was top notch, and we couldn't have been better supported by our British hosts. I believe we've made some lasting friendships and excellent working relationships; I hope to continue the relationship with the RWxY."

But the training did not end at the ranges. The cooks of F Company, 237th Brigade Support Battalion worked sunrise until sundown to ensure that the Soldiers and tankers were well fed throughout their training. The medics of Charlie Co. also trained with their RWxY counterparts, and provided daily medical support at sick call and ensured a medical presence throughout the training. "I'm glad that we had very few, and only minor medical issues arise during the ODT (overseas duty training), but I'm confident that had something more serious occurred, Charlie's medics and our British counterparts would have been up to the task," said Capt. Corey Hirdes, a physician's assistant with the 119th Field Artillery Battalion, who was in Germany supporting C-1-125IN.

Perhaps the most beneficial lessons, however, came on the logistics or "G4" front. "I'm not going to lie, it was a lot of work" said Capt. Adam Betz, the logistics officer for 1-125IN. "But the experience was rewarding, and I learned a ton not only from having to work with all of the logistics folks at Michigan's Joint Force Headquarters, but also the active duty folks in Europe and especially from my British counterparts with the Yeomanry. I'm confident that this ODT has better prepared the 125 for any future deployment, and the lessons learned during this ODT will absolutely pay dividends in the future."

"The Brits were amazing, and I'm honored to have met them and had the opportunity to learn from them. I've always been proud to call the Brits our allies, but now I'm also proud to call them my friends."