In Afghanistan, Guam and Danish Soldiers Learn Cultures; Train Together

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CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Soldiers from Guam and Denmark broke cultural barriers mid-October by sharing a training program and forming a bond of friendship.

Members of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, participated in shooting skills competition hosted by their new Danish friends and in return, the Guam Guardsmen set up their own firing range for the Danes’ participation. Using their own issued weapons, the Soldiers were able to see how each nation qualifies as either a marksman, sharpshooter or expert rifleman.

“By far, the Danish ranges were tougher than how we normally qualify,” said 1st Sgt. John Pangelinan, Bravo Company first sergeant. “It was good for us to experience that. Our Soldiers were able to see how another (nation) operates their ranges and the different weapons they use. Likewise for them, they were able to see how we fire. It was a good exchange of both programs.” 

[Soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, share certificates of honors with friends from a Denmark unit stationed at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The units exchanged mission training mid-October in a friendly exchange of cultures. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt Eddie Siguenza/Released)]

The Guam and Denmark Soldiers had planned the training for several weeks, says Capt. Karina Wobbe, Denmark operations officer. It took time to set up the firing range and coordinate personnel to compete when not on their scheduled Operation Enduring Freedom missions.

“For us, the biggest thing we’ve gotten out of this is how friendly everybody is from Guam,” Wobbe said. “It was good training. It was a great experience for us. Hopefully this is the start of further missions with Guam.”  

[Soldiers from separate units from Denmark listen to a description of the different types of Guam dishes before a fiesta at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. The Guam Army National Guard’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, hosted their new friends and marksmanship training companions to an island-style barbecue. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt Eddie Siguenza/Released)]

Guam and Denmark Soldiers work in the same building but in different offices, Wobbe explained. This interaction led to the friendly competition.

Staff Sgt. Randy Eustaquio, squad leader, was the only Bravo Company Soldier to earn a silver medal, accumulating enough points to attain a top-three level in Danish marksmanship, with gold being the highest standard. More than a dozen Denmark shooters earned expert badges.

Five Guam Soldiers — Spc. Arturo Gutierrez, Spc. Gerard Ogo, 1st Lt. Daniel Rudes, Sgt. Ralph “Bill” Gutierrez and Sgt. Frank Fejeran — earned bronze medals.


[Capt. Shawn Meno, right, commander of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, congratulates Capt. Karina Wobbe, Denmark operations officer, after Wobbe earned an expert badge in a shooting competition sponsored by the Guam Guardsmen. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt Eddie Siguenza/Released)]

The qualification standards differ between each country, Pangelinan explained. Denmark is tougher because it requires shooters to fire at a target 200 meters away. In one of three qualifiers, shooters fire from the kneeling position (four shots) and then right away must readjust to the prone position and fire another four shots at a target. The shooter has 40 seconds to perform this qualification.  


[Spc. Gerard Ogo, left, of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, receives a certificate from Danish Soldier Sgt. Hans Melchior after Ogo earned one of Bravo’s five bronze medals in a shooting competition sponsored by a Denmark unit at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt Eddie Siguenza/Released)]

“This was something different than how we normally qualify,” Pangelinan said. “We learned from this. This lets us know how another country does their range operations compared to what we do.”

At the end of training, the Guam Soldiers hosted an island-style barbecue featuring kadon pika, chicken and beef kelaguen, red rice, finadene and other Guam dishes.

“Best food we’ve eaten in Afghanistan,” one of the Danes boasted. “Better than what they serve in the eating facility.”

Denmark is one of 28 NATO alliances. It is also one of about two dozen countries assisting the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan’s goal of supporting the International Security Assistance Force’s mission of helping stabilize the Afghan government’s security forces. 

 

[Members of a Danish unit stationed at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, enjoy a Guam cuisine mid-October after the Guam Army National Guard’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, hosted a fiesta-style barbecue to honor their new friends and marksmanship training companions. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt Eddie Siguenza/Released)]