Va. Guard, Danish Home Guard visit training sites

Danish Home Guard visits 183rd RTI

Danish military officers visit the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute Oct. 3, 2014, as part of a Department of Defense Reserve Officer Foreign Exchange, held Oct. 1-7, in cooperation with the Virginia National Guard. The visitors received a capabilities brief from each of the three battalions in the regiment, toured the RTI facility and learned about the various course offerings taught at the schoolhouse. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Members of the Virginia National Guard spent four weeks working hand-in-hand with members of the Danish Home Guard Sept. 13 to Oct. 8, 2014, as part of the Department of Defense Reserve Officers Foreign Exchange Program and from a growing relationship between the Virginia National Guard and the Danish Home Guard.

The annual program provides Virginia National Guard officers the opportunity to take part in a four-week military exchange program with Denmark—two weeks there, two weeks here. The program was created to maintain tactical and mobilization proficiency between allies, who often work together while deployed, and improve cross-cultural understanding and relationships.

Fifteen members of the Virginia National Guard travelled to Nymindegab Camp in Denmark, Sept. 13-28, where they participated in Exercise: Viking Star, an infantry-focused, live fire exercise with members of the U.S. Army, Danish Home Guard, and the United Kingdom’s Territorial Army. Viking Star provides participants an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with allies to further develop collaborative combat skills.

“Gaining exposure to both the differences and similarities in how our NATO allies think and execute was probably the best part of the exercise,” said 1st Lt. Michael A. Drabowicz, platoon leader assigned to Company F, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “We actually got to assault an old World War II bunker as part of the exercise too.”

In addition, five senior leaders from the Virginia National Guard visited Denmark Sept. 16-23 and learned how the Danish Home Guard manages its logistics, light infantry operations and its day-to-day activities.

Eleven members of the Danish Home Guard visited various facilities, training sites and units during their two-week visit to the Virginia National Guard Oct. 1-7, 2014. Senior military officers from Denmark’s equivalent to the National Guard started their visit at the Sandston-based Joint Operations Center where they met with the watch officers and noncommissioned officers and discussed how the JOC maintains the Common Operating Picture. They then travelled to Fort Pickett to visit the 34th Civil Support Team.

Danish military officers visit Va. Guard units, facilities

Danish military officers visit the Fort Pickett-based 34th Civil Support Team Oct. 3, 2014, during a Department of Defense Reserve Officer Foreign Exchange, Oct. 1-7, in cooperation with the Virginia National Guard. The 34th CST briefed and demonstrated the CST’s capabilities and simulated a hazardous materials response to showcase training, equipment and readiness. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“It was great to visit with the Danish contingent,” said Maj. Michael Booker, commander, 34th Civil Support Team. “They were very interested in our capabilities and had lots of questions about our mission, the type of training we conduct and how we would be employed in a domestic emergency.”

The 34th CST provided an information brief and a survey sampling demonstration.

The Danish military officers then visited the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, where Col. Thomas L. Morgan, III, commander of the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, provided a brief overview, led a tour of the RTI campus, and showed the contingent the Air Assault Obstacle Course.

“The Danish Home Guard Officers actively engaged with our staff and instructors as we explained our mission, courses, logistics, and support to the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and active component,” Morgan said. “We are the equivalent of their Camp Nymindegab so there was a mutual appreciation and respect that fostered a great exchange of information.”

“There is certainly a benefit in future exchanges between our instructors and participating in each other’s training,” said Morgan. “My counterpart explained they already have some trainers that are certified by U.S. Army instructor courses.”

“Their techniques and expertise are likely as beneficial to us as ours to them,” explained Morgan.

The Danish military officers observed several units from the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct individual and crew served weapons qualification events during their monthly drill at Fort Pickett, Va.

In addition to visiting Fort Pickett, the Danish officers visited Soldiers from the Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit, 91st Troop Command. The DPU specializes in cyber defense and information security. During the visit, the DPU provided the Danes a general briefing about their capabilities and demonstrated several tools associated with information assurance and vulnerability assessments.

“The Danish visit provided our Soldiers an opportunity to discuss unit missions and capabilities,” explained Col. Adam C. Volant, commander of the Data Processing Unit. “A particular highlight of their visit was having them see tools used in wireless vulnerability assessments.”

A Soldier with the Data Processing Unit, 91st Troop Command demonstrates how to use the YellowJacket wireless scanner to a group of senior military officers from the Denmark Home Guard Oct. 7, 2014, during a Department of Defense Reserve Officer Foreign Exchange, Oct. 1-7, in cooperation with the Virginia National Guard. The YellowJacket wireless scanner is used to scan for wireless devices and systems with wireless active, which are a threat to network security. (Courtesy photo)

A Soldier with the Data Processing Unit, 91st Troop Command demonstrates how to use the YellowJacket wireless scanner to a group of senior military officers from the Denmark Home Guard Oct. 7, 2014, during a Department of Defense Reserve Officer Foreign Exchange, Oct. 1-7, in cooperation with the Virginia National Guard. The YellowJacket wireless scanner is used to scan for wireless devices and systems with wireless active, which are a threat to network security. (Courtesy photo)

“As they further explore building this capability within the Danish Home Guard, there may be opportunities to collaborate more and share information. We are interested in building community with those who work in the cyber area and the Danish share that aim,” Volant said. The Danish officers concluded their trip by visiting the Arlington-based National Guard Bureau and Pentagon and the monuments surrounding the National Capital Region.

“They seemed really interested in small unit training opportunities,” said Capt. Kyle Duffer, operations officer with the Directorate of Operations and Training, Virginia Army National Guard. “One of our strengths is being able to conduct decisive operations as a squad or as a platoon—this is what the Danish really want to further in their own ranks.”

The Danish Home Guard was founded in 1949, initially consisting of former members of the Resistance Movement from the occupation during the years 1940 to 1945. In 1948, the Danish Parliament passed the first Home Guard Act. Throughout the years, this act has been kept up-to-date, but the fundamental principles remain the same as they were back in 1948. The actual act is from 1982 with minor modifications since then, the latest in 1993.

The Home Guard is present all over the Denmark. With its military organization, its command structure, and the means of communication the Home Guard can be activated to support the civilian society in many ways, also during peacetime.

“The home guard conducts most the country’s search and rescue operations,” explained Col. Marti J. Bissell, director of training, Directorate of Operations and Training, Virginia Army National Guard. “They respond to almost 14 emergency calls a day, as complete volunteers, embedded in their communities and trained to respond to a multitude of potential crises.”

“Interaction with international troops on a regular basis assists us develop the interpersonal, communication, and operational skills relevant to participating in coalition and NATO operations,” Morgan said. “The Danish Home Guard provides a unique opportunity to interact and learn from a similar military organization focused on civil support as well national security missions.”

The Virginia National Guard participated in several other overseas training events with its allies this summer including a medical symposium with the Swedish armed forces, a cyber defense exchange with the United Kingdom’s Territorial Army, and a joint officer professional development exchange with the UK’s Royal Air Force – Reserve.

The Danish Home Guard totals nearly 48,000 volunteers, men and women above the age of 18 years old, and approximately 800 full-time employees.

The primary purpose of the DoD MREP is to provide National Guard and Reserve officers training associated with mobilization duties while enhancing their ability to work and communication with the military individuals of the host nation. The program provides the opportunity for officers and noncommissioned officers to complete annual training pertinent to their mobilization assignment while they gain an understanding of the training, doctrine and operations of a major alliance partner.

The DoD MREP began in 1985 with an agreement between the U.S. and Germany operating under DoD Directive 1215.15. Four years later the U.S. reached a similar agreement with the British Ministry of Defense. More than a decade later, the Kingdom of Denmark and the U.S. signed an agreement in Copenhagen, Dec. 11, 2012. Since then, the four nations have been exchanging military personnel to the benefit of the individual and host nation.

Soldiers from the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Virginia Army National Guard participate in Exercise Viking Star Sept. 13-28, 2014, in Nymindegab Camp, Denmark as part of the Department of Defense Reserve Officers Foreign Exchange Program and from a growing relationship between the Virginia National Guard and the Danish Home Guard. (Photo by First Lt. Michael A. Drabowicz, Company F, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

Soldiers from the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Virginia Army National Guard participate in Exercise Viking Star Sept. 13-28, 2014, in Nymindegab Camp, Denmark as part of the Department of Defense Reserve Officers Foreign Exchange Program and from a growing relationship between the Virginia National Guard and the Danish Home Guard. (Photo by First Lt. Michael A. Drabowicz, Company F, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

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