Exercise Regional Cooperation 2012, a multinational exercise designed to strengthen relationships and promote regional cooperation among participating nations, is being held at the Koi Tash Military Academy, Kyrgyzstan, June 18 to 28. The exercise tested participants’ emergency management capabilities while working to strengthen interoperability between all involved.
Service members from the Transit Center at Manas and the Massachusetts National Guard, along with representatives from the exercise’s host nation, Kyrgyzstan, trained side-by-side with personnel from Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan during the 10-day event.
“The multilateral exercise is meant to bring participants together while working to increase interoperability, communication and cooperation,” said Army Maj. John Dickey, 51st Troop Command assistant operations officer with the Massachusetts National Guard.
“The exercise is a great opportunity to work with our Kyrgyz partners,” said MSgt. Michael English, 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight chief.
English was a participant in the chemical, biological, radiation, nuclear, explosive training scenarios and worked directly with Kyrgyz Republic partners during the exercise.
“English commented that while they came in as strangers, they left as friends. “We built a friendship; we bonded. They took the knowledge we were able to provide them and they just ran with it.”
Representatives conducted training in a variety of scenarios simulating a response to a natural disaster; members from the Transit Center were able to experience a hands-on information exchange, something many would not normally experience in their daily operations.
“Even though we use different types of equipment, exchanging the knowledge and expertise is what matters and it’s a very rewarding feeling,” said CMSgt. Stephen Groszek, 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief deployed out of Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind.
Overcoming a language barrier was also a challenge from many.
“We had a language barrier to work with when we started, but with the patience and help of interpreters, everyone was successful in getting the message across,” Groszek said.
Groszek, who oversaw the search and rescue operations scenarios, such as simulated river rescues, victim under a car and medical recovery of mass casualties, commented on the cooperation he saw during practical portion of the exercise.
“One thing I’ve taken to heart is that we’re all the same,” he said. “We all have one common goal while we are here. We may perform our mission with different techniques, but in the end, we reach our goal. That is what is important here.”