116th MET meets counterparts, trains with 7 partner nations

Capt. Christopher Wille takes notes during an exchange with Soldiers from the U.S. and United Arab Emirates Sept. 25, 2016, in Kuwait. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti, 116th Military Engagement Team)

Capt. Christopher Wille takes notes during an exchange with Soldiers from the U.S.
and United Arab Emirates Sept. 25, 2016, in Kuwait. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti, 116th Military Engagement Team)

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Members of the Kentucky National Guard’s 149th Military Engagement Team arrived in Kuwait September 13, 2016, to conduct a Pre-Deployment Site Survey, or PDSS, and learn the mission they’ll soon be taking over from members of the 116th Military Engagement Team.

“We were able to provide our 149th guests with answers to the pertinent questions they had, give them insight into life at Camp Arifjan, as well as the work tempo we’ve experienced throughout this deployment,” explained Capt. Robert Maffeo, the unit’s movement and personnel officer. “I believe they left the PDSS feeling much more confident in what their mission is, and how their operating environment may look.”

During their visit, seven members of the 149th MET received briefings on what to expect from their upcoming mission, in both Jordan and Kuwait, and also had time to review products of the 116th MET, and to experience first-hand what life is like in the two locations.

The primary goal of the PDSS was to answer as many of the 149th MET’s questions as possible and to provide them with a realistic idea of what the overall MET mission involves, how military-to-military engagement opportunities are identified, planned and executed and what day-to-day operations look like in both Kuwait and Jordan.

“I want them to know that it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” explained Master Sgt. John Rothmann, noncommissioned officer-in-charge in Jordan. “It isn’t going to begin or end with any one person or team or action. It’s a collective effort built on enduring relationships that are forged not between two individuals, but two nations, in an effort to reach a common goal. It’s about understanding how tiny your presence is, but also how significant the effects of your contribution are.”

In addition to the PDSS, September also saw many members of the 116th MET scattered across the region conducting information exchanges with partners from Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Lebanon and Jordan.

“We focused on border security and responding to civil disturbance,” explained Maj. John Roche, Future Operations Chief in Kuwait, who participated in two, back-to-back engagements in Oman during the final weeks of September. “What we learned there is that every country is influenced not only by what could happen internally, but also by what happens externally, with their neighbors.”

Maffeo also participated in the exchange, and said, “My favorite part of the experience was working with a military I knew very little about before this deployment and building my knowledge base by talking with different individuals from the Omani Armed Forces.”

In Kuwait, 116th team members partnered with the Fort Bliss-based 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division to train alongside troops from the United Arab Emirates.

“We were there supporting 3/1 ABCT to help them engage with their Emirati counterparts in order to build interoperability,” said 1st Lt. Alexander Nance, assigned to Kuwait. “All the hard work that our personnel, notably Capt. Wille, put in beforehand set us up for success, and allowed us to smoothly and easily overcome any hurdles we encountered.”

In the coming month, the team will spend much of October recovering from the rapid-pace of the summer months before again launching into their final months deployed, all of which are packed with upcoming missions that will keep the team traveling until it’s time to come home.