Kentucky Soldiers share best practices in Mauritius

Story by Sgt. Alexa Becerra, Task Force Longrifles Public Affairs

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Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion 138th Field Artillery participated in a joint training exercise on the island nation of Mauritius with members of the nations military, April, 2013. The training consisted of classroom instruction on incident command functions, scene size-up safety, structural collapse rescue awareness, search and rescue techniques, shoring basics, and medical triage and treatment. (Courtesy photo)

MAURITIUS – Kentucky National Guard Soldiers from the 2-138th Field Artillery, currently deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, recently conducted a military-to-military engagement in Mauritius.

Overall, the purpose of the engagement was to familiarize their Special Mobile Forces with our best practices and share techniques used in urban search and rescue operations in order to increase the capabilities of first responders and to enhance partner-nation relationships.

“We were able to rehash what they had already been trained on, yet at the same time we were able to share with them our method of responding to events such as natural or manmade disasters, accidents, and incidents,” said Lt. Col. Rob Larkin, commander of the 2-138th and a native of Maysville, Ky.

“From our stand point, this mission also provided us a baseline to know what kind of detailed knowledge we can provide for them in the future,” Larkin added.

All three Kentucky National Guard Soldiers that participated in this engagement are firefighters and paramedics in their civilian careers, with over 60 years of combined experience in the field.

Lt. Col. Phil Honican, an artillery officer in the 2-138th and native of Lexington, Ky., was mission commander for this exchange and said he was very excited to be able to apply his civilian skill-set to help increase operational and institutional capabilities with East African partner nations.

Larkin

Lt. Col. Rob Larkin, commander of the 2-138th Field Artillery, shows a Special Mobile Force officer how to use a thermal imaging camera in Mauritius. Kentucky Guard Soldiers assisted with the joint military to military training as part of Task Force Longrifles deployment to the Horn of Africa. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jonathon Towles)

By and large, the training consisted of classroom instruction on incident command functions, scene size-up safety, structural collapse rescue awareness, search and rescue techniques, shoring basics, and medical triage and treatment. The Mauritian forces also practiced hands-on methods to apply the new techniques.

“They are a very capable force; it was a very good exchange of information,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathon Towles, a cavalry scout attached to the 2-138th and native of Corsicana, Tx.  “This mission provided the Mauritian forces with a unique skill set and capability that the U.S. has brought to the table, and I believe it would be beneficial to both nations to continue to work together in depth,” said Towles.

In addition, both militaries were able to share lessons learned from past experiences that helped contribute to the Mauritius Disaster Response Plan.

From here on, both nations look forward to continuing this relationship and sharing knowledge to enhance their capabilities.

“The mission ended with a sense of partnership and mutual respect,” said Towles.

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