By Spc. Matthew A. Thompson
HOHENFELS, Germany-- Australian infantrymen walked into town of Nurgal as their humvees trailed behind. They were in town to meet with the local mayor and police chief to pay respects as their unit moved through the area.
The conversation in the police station was translated through an interpreter covering the topics of supplies and any threats to the village. Their next stop after a quick conversation with the police chief was the hospital. The discussions went well as the police chief, platoon commander and another Soldier walked toward the hospital.
As they approached the hospital, gunshots cut through the air injuring one Soldier. The police chief and his men ran to cover. Insurgents had taken over the hospital preventing anyone from receiving aid. The infantrymen of 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment reacted quickly to eliminate the threat.
"The realism is fantastic," said Australian Maj. Gordon Wing, commanding officer, Combat Team Charlie from the ANZAC Battle Group. "The replication of the two current Middle East theaters is unbelievable ranging from the population to the cultural aspects. It's like being there without actually being there."
Their goal, Sept. 18, was to interact with the local leadership and offer assistance to the local population with the help of other coalition nations. A human intelligence collector from 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division accompanied the Australians on their mission to gain intelligence on possible enemy forces in the area.
"It's a fantastic training opportunity getting to work with various aspects of coalition forces; assets like interpreters and civil military affairs teams," Wing said.
The battalion is participating in Cooperative Spirit 2008 an American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Armies Program interoperability activity at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, near Hohenfels, Germany.
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Parker, an observer/controller with the Vampire O/C team, said the Australians are really good. They had little trouble adapting from light infantry role to mechanized infantry, demonstrating they can adapt very well.
He said the Australians take our tactics, techniques and procedures and use them for what they do.
"What we see isn't much different than what we see with American Soldiers, from their stacks, to breaching objectives and assaults," Parker said. "There's a quick strike to it. They're very effective once they get inside. They leave no room for error."
The Australians entered the hospital and with surgical precision took down the gunmen inside who were preventing the villagers of Nurgal from receiving medical treatment. A thorough inspection of the facilities revealed a weapons cache, an assembled bomb and bomb making materials.
Not everything they do is the same as the Americans though, Parker said. "They do different things that we can learn and pass on to our counterparts in the U.S. Army. The way they do an assault or questioning is a little different, and we can learn from that."
Australian Sgt. Richard William Chapman, the platoon sergeant for 4th platoon, Bravo Company compared the training and operating with other coalition partners to a football match.
"You gotta pick the best. On the battlefield you've got your teams and everyone has to know where they are slotted in," Chapman said. "The Australians may be the forwards and the Americans the backs running the ball. Each aspect of the team has to know where they're slotted in to enhance that particular mission or goal."
Following the action, the villagers of Nurgal again have a hospital that can be used for its' proper purpose, now that the insurgents presence in the village was eliminated. With their mission in the town wrapped up, the Australians climbed into the vehicles and headed back to their base camp.