RUBKUT TRAINING RANGE, Oman - Soldiers from the Oregon National Guard’s 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment, impressed during a training exercise halfway around the world in the nation of Oman according to leadership at the event.
The Oregon troops joined the Royal Army of Oman’s 11th Brigade, Western Frontier Regiment, and a platoon from the 125th Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., for a U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) sponsored training event, Jan. 17-Feb. 4.
The event was designed to strengthen military and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Oman. It did just that according to leadership from both armies — exceeding their expectations.
Distinguished guests who visited the training site included Hamed Nasser Al Nabhani, commander of the Royal Army of Oman’s 11th Brigade, Western Frontier Regiment, Maj. Gen Raymond Rees, adjutant general, Oregon, Oregon’s State command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley, ARCENT deputy commanding general, Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek and Deputy G7 Arabian Peninsula, Col. Stanley Reedy, who all commented on the company’s success.
“This is the best teaming event I have ever seen from any of Oman’s international partners,” said Al Nabhani.
The company level Field Training Exercise was conducted at the Rubkut Training Range where troops were treated to a unique, rugged landscape of rolling hills with a variety of fascinating wildlife that included camels, panthers, gazelle, eagles and lizards.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gary Callister, linguist manager for the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade from the Utah National Guard, who managed three other interpreters during the training, echoed the sentiments of many soldiers by saying the bond which developed left U.S. and Omani soldiers with memories that will last a lifetime.
“The relationships being built are critical to our country because of the importance of this region, and the soldiers on both sides will remember this for a lifetime,” he added.
After settling in at the training site, the event kicked off with a meet-and-greet and weapons training session. While it was clear the soldiers didn’t know what to expect, they quickly began communicating and forming a mutual respect.
“I am learning things I never knew before by training with a foreign army, and even making new friends,” said Spc. Wesley Ham, a cavalry scout.
Many of the Omanis spoke English and were able to translate. The U.S. soldiers were impressed with how interested the Omanis were to learn, and the Omanis were happy to see the interest the U.S. soldiers had in their culture.
“We like the American soldiers—we are learning a lot from them—I have never shot mortars or a .50-caliber machine gun, and I like it a lot,” said an Omani soldier.
In addition to the challenging training, the soldiers enjoyed cultural and sports days where they shared meals, participated in sporting events, and learned about culture with the Omanis. By the end of training, Omani and U.S. soldiers frequently commented on the mutual respect and comfort level that developed.
Lt. Col. James Niumatalalo, ARCENT Arabian Peninsula branch chief, said the diversity of the National Guard soldiers from Oregon allowed them to provide disciplined training while connecting with the Omanis on an interpersonal level. He said the way the soldiers conducted their training and interaction with the Omanis left ARCENT, Omani and Oregon National Guard leadership impressed.
“The 1/82 Cavalry opened some doors out here that have never been opened before,” Niumatalolo said.
The training involved company-level field training involving light infantry tactics, combat medical procedures, operational planning and military leadership.
Col. Stanley Reedy said he was impressed with the level of professionalism the soldiers and leaders from the 1/82nd Cavalry brought to the training.
“This unit is the best Army National Guard unit I have seen in my 24 years of service, they did an outstanding job partnering with the Omani soldiers and leaders,” said the Deputy G7 of the Arabian Peninsula.
Oregon’s adjutant general also said he thought the Oregon troops did an excellent job while visiting the Rubkut Training Range with Conley.
“The 1st of the 82nd Cavalry has made the most of a wonderful opportunity; the soldiers have deployed with a great attitude and thoroughly impressed their Omani counterparts,” Rees said.
Staff Sgt. David Reynolds said it is the first time in his 23 years of military experience that he has been able to train with a foreign national army. He said it is great to learn about their culture and military tactics.
“I am impressed with the teamwork the Omanis have,” Reynolds said. “It’s is like our teamwork, and right now we are working with them as one team.”
Maj. Antoinette Baucom, public affairs officer for the Third Army, said the purpose of the training is to maintain and enhance the U.S. presence in Oman while strengthening military to military relationships that promote regional stability.
In addition to the interpreters involved in the training, Oregon and Omani soldiers found other ways to bridge the communication gap, said Spc. Caleb Rice, a medic with 1/82nd Cav.
“We maximized the training with all the hands-on activities—the language barrier wasn’t really an issue,” Rice said.
Maj. Erin Bagley, plans and operations officer with 1/82nd Cavalry, said the training is a great tool for the development of the Oregon squadron.
“We’re looking at what works for us and how we can improve,” Bagley said. “This is a great opportunity to do that.”
Capt. Nicholas Le Crerar from the British Foreign Service, a training officer for the Omani army, commented on the relationship between the U.S. and Omani soldiers on the last day of training. He said everybody came with a great attitude ready to learn throughout the training.
“You can see today that they’ve become great friends. They’re out here shaking hands and having a bit of fun,” Le Crerar said after the U.S. and Omanis participated in sporting events and shared a traditional Omani meal.
Maj. Scot Caughran, the U.S. task force commander for the event said the experience is one he will never forget.
“We have improved as a unit and now have an increased respect for Omani culture,” he said.