Tuesday, May 08, 2018

U.S. Soldiers Receive Medals From Guatemala’s Government

By Daniel Barrios, U.S. Army Security Assistance Command

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Three U.S. soldiers have been recognized by the president of Guatemala in Puerto San Jose for their acts of brotherhood and friendship.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales presided over the ceremony at which Staff Sgt. Harcel Rosado, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Kinzie and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Raul Espinoza were awarded the Medal of the White Nun by the Guatemalan armed forces.

The soldiers are members of a technical assistance field team from the Fort Bragg-based U.S. Security Assistance Training Management Organization, a subordinate organization of the Security Assistance Command. Assigned to the TAFT in Guatemala, their mission was to train and advise the nation’s elite naval special forces in watercraft and communication tactics in support of their counter-narcotics operations.

 Intercepting Illicit Drugs

Experts in their fields, the soldiers have spent the last year working shoulder to shoulder with Guatemala’s maritime forces as they fight to intercept hundreds of tons of illicit drugs that flow from South America through the Central American corridor into Mexico and, ultimately, the United States.

The soldiers’ dedication and superior service had a decisive impact on counter-narcotics operations.

Guatemala’s naval special forces, the FEN, are integral to the war on drugs, “and that they would recognize our TAFTs’ contributions to the success, growth and professionalization of the FEN was a watershed moment,” said SATMO’s Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Lamkins, who attended the award ceremony.

The award recipients are superior soldiers “that take highly developed military skills sets, Army discipline and U.S. diplomacy to international partners all over the globe,” Lamkins said.

Rosado said he is humbled by the recognition, calling the mission the most rewarding of his career. As a watercraft operator, he is among a small group of military mariners with the specialized skillset -- “around 1,200 active duty personnel throughout the whole Army,” explained Rosado, who has spent seven-and-a-half of his nine years in the Army at sea.

Rosado said he taught the Guatemalan troops watercraft maintenance and safety and was impressed by the professionalism and trust both nations shared.

“The units we advised, the boats we trained on, they are actually being used in counter-narcotics operations, so it’s a real-world mission. We taught; they adjusted, adapted and implemented much of what we shared,” Rosado said.

Advise, Assist Role

For Kinzie, the impact of the advise-and-assist role was evident immediately. During his tour, he used his signal expertise to increase the FEN’s communication capability from 75 nautical miles to 300 nautical miles. That means FEN troops can now identify and respond to drug traffickers hundreds of miles off the Guatemala coast.

“This shakes up the whole battlefield for narcos travelling along the coastline,” Kinzie said. “In the past, they only need to stay more than 75 miles off the coastline to avoid detection. Now, they have to go back to the drawing board, and relook their limited fuel capacity [and] need for resupply.”

Rosado saluted the people of Guatemalan as “always willing to go out of their way to make others comfortable, whatever it takes.”

Rosado hails from Puerto Rico, and he conducted his training in Spanish.

“Being able to train in a shared native language added a shared level of understanding,” he said. “One of things I learned about myself is that I love to teach.”

Rosado is now assigned to the Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Fort Lee, Virginia, where he instructs the Army Leader Course. And while pleased with the new assignment and ready to tackle whatever the Army has for him next, he will never forget the SATMO mission.

“I hope we continue to spread the word about SATMO,” he said. “I would highly recommend it to fellow soldiers, but they need to know that it takes a very responsible and professional individual. For such a [diplomatic] mission, you can’t just meet the high standard, you must exceed the standard. Because you’re not just representing SATMO, but the whole Army.”

Soldiers Bridge Language, Cultural Barriers at Combined Resolve Exercise

By Army Sgt. Brian Schroeder, Joint Multinational Readiness Center

HOHENFELS, Germany -- Participants at the multinational Combined Resolve X exercise conducted here April 9-May 12 are being asked “to understand other cultures and different ways of thinking,” said Polish army Command Sgt. Maj. Andrzej Woltmann, the 12th Mechanized Division’s senior enlisted advisor.

“We can help each other if we know some phrases in other languages, but we have to try and use the military terms according to NATO guidance and not try to literally translate procedures to our national language,” Woltmann said. “At the end of the day, the mission objectives are the same.”

The exercise includes approximately 3,700 participants from 13 nations at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Areas.

In an area known as “the box,” coalition forces, led by the Polish army’s 12th Mechanized Division, with soldiers from Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Georgia and the Czech Republic, square off against an opposing force  comprising U.S. soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment and soldiers from the Ukrainian, Slovenian, Romanian and Latvian armies.

Know Your Allies

“In order to be an adaptive leader it is very useful to know your allies and make sure everybody is on the same operational page,” Woltmann said.

In an effort to standardize language across the 29 member nations, NATO has designated English and French as the official languages.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Randon Sander, explosive ordnance disposal observer coach/trainer for the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Raptor Team, said communicating with troops from different countries can be challenging during training.

“Luckily for me, our career field is pretty black and white; like a math equation,” Sander said. “It doesn’t matter what the language is, there is one way to make an explosive. Electricity, circuitry and explosives all work in the same way. I can tell they get the big picture because when I watch them run full throttle, I can tell they are thinking the same things I am.”

Body Language, Gestures

Body language and gestures are also used to communicate in multinational medical units. Polish Cpl. Pavel Witkowski, a paramedic assigned to 12th Command Battalion, 12th Mechanized Division, said he has worked with U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan on multiple deployments. Although the accessibility of translators on cell phones and the internet have cut many language barriers, he said the technology can sometimes get in the way in a medical emergency.

“Sometimes we must say something quickly, but do not know how to say in a different language,” Witkowski said. “We use simple words and our hands if we don’t know the word if we want to say something when we are working on a patient.”

The Kosovo Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, Kosovo Civil Protection Regiment, comprises various cultural backgrounds including Albanian, Turkish and Bosnian. Soldiers in this unit can speak English, Turkish, Serbian and German. Kosovan soldiers can volunteer to receive language training in English, as well as German, three times per week. Capt. Gezim Sada, EOD Company, Kosovo Civil Protection Regiment deputy commander, said he encourages his soldiers to learn English because it is a common language spoken around the world.

“It is good if everybody can speak another language, but we try to push for everybody to learn English because you cannot go anywhere without English,” Sada said. “We have to adapt with the field and how things are going on the battlefield. It would be difficult for U.S. soldiers to learn Albanian, but it is not easy to learn English, either.”

Knowing he would be interacting with the Polish army, Col. David W. Gardner, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team commander, took it upon himself to learn Polish before the exercise. He said having the ability to speak simple phrases in Polish might help him come across clearly to his NATO comrades on the battlefield.


“One way you can demonstrate you are committed to your allies is to try and return the favor by learning their language,” Gardner said. “It can be something simple as just saying somebody’s name properly. I think it is a sign of respect.”

Adriana Zakk, a Polish Army psychologist, said being fluent in a foreign language is not a requirement to communicate with somebody from a different country. Simply knowing basic phrases in a foreign language is showing international courtesy.

“It is about having openness,” Zakk said. “If a soldier from the U.S. or Italy speaks to a Polish soldier and says ‘ dzien dobry,’ or good morning, this is collapsing the cultural barrier. Then you can speak English. When you are working in an international environment, it is about being flexible all of the time.”

Woltmann said understanding a different culture is the first step in accepting differences between your native land and a foreign country. Knowing how to communicate is secondary.

“You should not be ignorant,” Woltmann said. “We have to start with ourselves if we want to learn a new language. If you are coming to Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, it is very good to learn some phrases first. Knowing the culture is most important. Language just helps you to break that cultural barrier.”
Combined Resolve is a U.S. Army Europe-directed multinational exercise. It is  designed to give the Army’s regionally allocated combat brigades in Europe a combat training center rotation with a joint, multinational environment.

USS Theodore Roosevelt Celebrates Naval Aviation on Tiger Cruise

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Alex Corona, USS Theodore Roosevelt

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Pacific Ocean -- Sailors, Marines and their guests marked the importance of naval aviation here May 3, remembering more than 107 years of innovation and achievement.

The ship is on its way to its home port at Naval Air Station North Island, California, after a seven-month deployment. More than 600 family members and friends embarked aboard the Theodore Roosevelt for a "Tiger Cruise" during a port call to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, April 27-May 1.

Navy Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and Navy Capt. Gus Ford, the commander of Carrier Air Wing 17, spoke of how naval aviation relates to navies, both past and present, during the celebration hosted by the ship's Naval Heritage Committee in the hangar bay.

"Aircraft carriers have come a long way," Sardiello said. "The USS Pennsylvania started with a wooden deck with sandbags for arresting gear. Here we are a little over a century later with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier."

The captain emphasized the necessity of today's aircraft and aircraft carriers in operations around the world.

"The importance of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to our nation's defense lies in the fact that it is the only platform that can deliver air power from the sea in a sustainable fashion," he said.

Family Support

It’s important for the Navy that embarked families and guests of the sailors and Marines understand life aboard an aircraft carrier, Ford said.

"It's really hard to understand what it's like to be in the Navy unless you come out here and experience it for yourself," he said. "When the family members and friends go home they will talk about this experience, and what we have accomplished on this deployment will add to the legacy of the Navy."

"Our Navy and the aviation aspect, together, is an essential part of our military," Ford said. "We keep the waters open for trade, have a strong projection of power throughout the world, and protect the interests of countries throughout the world."

CVW-17 hosted an airpower demonstration for the ship’s guests, which displayed skills such as low-altitude passes and turns, high-speed fly-bys, combat maneuvers, and the detonation of live ordnance. The demonstration ended with 15 aircraft flying in formation over the flight deck.

Sailors, Marines and their guests watched as F/A-18F and F/A-18E Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, F/A-18C Hornets, MH-60S and MH-60R Sea Hawks and an E-2C Hawkeye performed in the skies above the carrier.

Carrier Air Wing 17

While embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt, CVW-17 flew 1,164 combat sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Additionally, CVW-17 flew more than 8,319 hours and operated approximately 70 aircraft during its 2017-2018 deployment.

The legacy of Navy aviation continues to grow, said Tiger Cruise attendee Jim Kooyer, a former petty officer who served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock.

"The same can be said about today's Navy as the Navy back during the Vietnam War," he said. "An immediate line of defense and the ability to be any place at any time is critical to accomplish any mission. This carrier, other naval vessels and the air wing all make that possible."

Naval aviation has played an integral part in supporting America's maritime strategy, from the wooden decks of the USS Pennsylvania to the unforgiving non-skid surface aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

CVW-17 is comprised of Lemoore, California-based Strike Fighter Squadron 22, Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113; Beaufort, South Carolina-based Marine Strike Fighter Attack Squadron 312; Whidbey Island, Washington-based Electronic Attack Squadron 139; Point Mugu, California-based Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116; San Diego-based Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6; and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.
Theodore Roosevelt left its home port of San Diego, Oct. 6, 2017, for a regularly-scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility.