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51st Trans. and British partners build alliance through joint exercise

  • 51st Trans. And British Partners Build Alliance Through Joint Exercise

    SENNELAGER, Germany — Staff Sgt. Nilberto Navarro (center), a squad leader in the 51st Transportation Company, back briefs his squad and performs pre-combat checks prior to the start of a patrol in Sennelager on July 29. (U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt…

  • 51st Trans. And British Partners Build Alliance Through Joint Exercise

    SENNELAGER, Germany — Sgt. William Hopkins (right), a squad leader with the 51st Transportation Company, explains how the M2A1 functions and teaches British Soldiers how to disassemble and reassemble the U.S. weapon in Sennelager on July 28. (U.S…

  • 51st Trans. And British Partners Build Alliance Through Joint Exercise

    SENNELAGER, Germany — Staff Sgt. Nilberto Navarro (center, facing away), a squad leader with the 51st Transportation Company, 39th Transportation Battalion, describes how to secure a M1151 HMMWV Humvee to a FLATRK M1077 Flat Rack prior to loading it…

  • 51st Trans. And British Partners Build Alliance Through Joint Exercise

    SENNELAGER, Germany — Sgt. William Hopkins (left), a squad leader with the 51st Transportation Company, 39th Transportation Battalion, requests squads to move to his location prior to assaulting an objective while his platoon leader 2nd Lt. Kyle…

  • 51st Trans. And British Partners Build Alliance Through Joint Exercise

    SENNELAGER, Germany — Lt. Col. Steven M. Dowgielewicz Jr., 39th Transportation Battalion Commander, and Lt. Col. John Rhodes, right, 29 Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps Commander, discuss interoperability operations between the United States Army and…

SENNELAGER, Germany – Soldiers from the 51st Transportation Company, 3rd Platoon, trained with the British unit 29 Royal Logistic Corps, 99th Postel Courier and Movement Control Squadron at an exercise named Knights Valor in Sennelager, Germany, July 22 through July 31. Soldiers from 3rd Platoon focused on dismounted operations that directly related to 51st Trans. mission for two months prior to the exercise. The platoon set up a patrol base and employed security measures to defend the assigned area. The training included patrolling operations at team, squad, and platoon levels. Once the platoon was proficient on British warrior skills level one and its company mission, they executed Knights Valor. Knights Valor was battle physical training, establishing and defending a patrol base, conducting presence and security patrols, teaching American and British equipment and tactics, techniques and procedures, and interchanging forces between the two platoons. Over the course of nine days, both forces learned how similar and different each unit was and what challenges they had to overcome to strengthen their interoperability.

The level one warrior skills for the British forces are almost identical to the United States Army warrior tasks and battle drills. Shoot, move, and communicate are the main areas of emphasis. Both forces establish patrol bases the same way, but the British call their patrol base a harbor and it has four stages of fortification. Once the harbor is established and they fortify it to stage four, the unit that occupies it can stay there indefinitely, whereas the United States Soldiers occupy their patrol base no more the 24 hours. Pfc. Joel De la Rosa, a heavy wheeled vehicle operator with 51st Trans. said, “The British harbor was always at 100 percent security and each squad had a specific priority of work. It was interesting to participate in their tactics and gave me a better understanding on how similar we are.”

The tactics employed by both units were similar as well. Reacting to contact, performing casualty evaluation and evacuation, and reacting to improvised explosive devices were executed almost the same way. Throughout the training, both units learned how to operate each nation’s radios, weapons, and equipment. They tested their interoperability and demonstrated it during lessons taught by both forces. The British issued 5.56x 45mm NATO rounds that both units used throughout the exercise. One shortfall was that the magazines do not interchange for each weapon used by the British and U.S. forces. To use the NATO ammunition each unit had to load it into their own magazines but were unable to swap magazines on the battlefield, challenging the interoperability. This required each unit to load magazines on the move, slowing down their movement and ability to react to contact quickly. The U.S. gave hands-on weapons training to the British forces on the M4A1 Rifle, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M2A1 Machine Gun, and the MK-19 Grenade Launcher. Spc. Tyler Hollis, a heavy wheeled vehicle operator with 51st Trans., participated in hands-on training with the British SA80 Rifle and explained how different the weapon system was compared to the U.S. M4A1 Rifle.

“The SA80 was heavier than the M4A1, making it difficult to maneuver quickly while bounding to each fighting position. However, the trigger mechanism was closer to the body and the built-in SUSAT (Sight Unit Small Arms, Trilux) optical sight, similar to the sights used by U.S. forces, making it easier to obtain a good sight picture while engaging targets. This also reduced the recoil of the weapon making it easier to stay on target,” Hollis said.

The U.S. forces also demonstrated their capabilities of transporting equipment. Third Platoon taught classes on the M1075 Palletized Load System and the M1151 HMMWV Humvee. This allows the British movement control team to understand composite truck company capabilities and their use in equipment transport interoperability. Another challenge presented during Knights Valor was the radio systems both nations operated. Communication is critical to allow units on the ground to succeed. However, U.S. radios did not communicate with British radios. Both forces overcame this obstacle by attaching a radio telephone operator (RTO) to each platoon, increasing the interoperability for each force. Similarities and Differences within the Ranks: The officer corps is similar in the U.S. and British forces. Officers plan training exercises and NCOs execute. The main difference was the organization of the unit at the company level. The British units use a platoon leader in a movement control unit called a platoon commander. The next higher up is the “2IC” or Second In-Charge. This duty position acts as the operations officer and executive officer. The highest-ranking officer at the squadron or company level is the Officer Commanding, or “OC.” A major fills the duty position that is equivalent to the U.S. Army’s company commander, most often a captain.

The NCOs of the British Army and the U.S. Army focus on the same ideals: Soldier welfare and training. The main difference from their NCO Corps and the U.S. Army is they separate junior enlisted from the ranks of E-1 to E-4 (Private to Corporal) and senior NCO’s from the ranks of E-5 to E-9 (Sergeant to Warrant Officer 1st). Each level has their own barracks and dining facilities. Every enlisted Soldier’s goal is to make it to the Sergeant mess. Every NCO lives at the NCO mess and their dining facility is located at their barracks. It takes an average of eight years for corporal and 12 to 16 years to make sergeant. A sergeant is in charge of the platoon that is normally manned with 24 Soldiers and the British staff sergeant is equivalent to a U.S. sergeant first class. The British staff sergeant is in charge of the platoon’s admin, unlike the U.S. staff sergeant, normally a squad leader. In the British ranks no matter what rank a Soldier attains everyone must be in that grade for two years before he is eligible for promotion. Another difference within the British Army is if a soldier moves through the ranks at a fast pace and gets promoted to Warrant Officer 1st, that soldier can request to be selected to become an officer and earn a commission. The Soldier will make the rank of captain once complete.

Knights Valor set the foundation for future operations and training between British and U.S. forces in the sustainment realm. In the future, both units will cross train both movement control teams by teaching and demonstrating the transportation movement release process for both U.S. forces and British forces. Additionally, 51st Transportation Company plans to prepare a tactical convoy operation exercise with the British to increase both units’ interoperability, where Soldiers from both units will conduct a convoy live fire exercise during a transportation movement.

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