Utah National Guard Showcases Soldiers

to Foreign Military Officials

 

Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published July 26, 2007

 

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A 300th Military Intelligence Brigade Soldier converses with a foreign  military officer in the visitor's native language at Hill Air Force Base Apr. 13.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

A 300th Military Intelligence Brigade Soldier converses with a foreign

 military officer in the visitor's native language at Hill Air Force Base Apr. 13.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Utah National Guard had a chance to show their stuff to visiting foreign military attachés Apr. 13 at Hill Air Force Base during a weeklong visit to the Western United States.

 

For the Utah leg of the trip, the 40 Washington, DC-based officers from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America had already toured Dugway Proving Ground and Hill and were set to receive a briefing on the Utah National Guard before departing for New Mexico and Arizona.

 

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, adjutant general for the Utah Guard, welcomed the visitors dressed in the varied uniforms of the world’s military and gave them a preview of what they would see during the briefings.

 

“It’s a delight to have you in Utah. Thank you for taking the time to learn about the Utah National Guard,” Tarbet said. “I’m extraordinarily proud of these Soldiers and Airmen and what they do here in this state and around the world. They represent the best that America has.”

 

Visitors then received briefings on the federal and state missions of the Utah National Guard, the State Partnership Program with Morocco and the unique capabilities of the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade from Col. Dwaine Torgersen, Lt. Col. Kurt Davis and Lt. Col. Alan Garrett, respectively.

 

Illustrating one of the singular specialties of the 300th was the attendance of more than a dozen of its linguists who spoke with the foreign military members in their native languages during breaks and after briefings. In hallways and meeting areas, officers and linguists conversed in Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and other languages. This effort benefited guests and linguists alike, providing visitors with a touch of home and linguists with some practical experience in their assigned languages.

 

Mingling with a two senior colonels from mainland China was Staff Sgt. Daniel Ricks of Bravo Company, 141st Military Intelligence Battalion.

 

“It added a whole new twist,” said Ricks. “They were happy to find someone to chat with in their language, and they helped me learn how to say ‘National Guard’ in Chinese.”

 

Ricks said the officers were very interested in how Soldiers obtain and maintain language skills.

Staff Sgt. Durrell Wheatley, 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, left, visits with Rear Adm. Michiel Hijmans of the Netherlands, during a break between briefings for the foreign visitors.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Staff Sgt. Durrell Wheatley, 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, left, visits with Rear Adm. Michiel Hijmans of the Netherlands, during a break between briefings for the foreign visitors.

 

“Language was why I joined the Guard and the reason I stay in the Guard,” said Ricks, who using his Chinese language skills daily working in the 300th MI Brigade’s Reserve Language Support program.

 

Perhaps the highlight for these visitors at Hill was when Spc. Jill Stevens, of First Battalion, 211th Aviation, spoke to the group and shared her experiences as a Soldier deployed to Afghanistan in 2004-05 and as first runner-up in the Miss Utah pageant in 2006.

 

In her remarks Stevens highlighted the role of women in the U.S. military and wowed the audience with combat experiences and humanitarian activities she had participated in while deployed. She also explained how her military background has helped her prepare for pageant competitions and life in general, both of which require confidence, discipline, mental and physical fitness and effective communication skills.

 

“I was honored that they saw my enthusiasm,” Stevens said after posing for pictures with several of the guests. “They seemed to appreciate my work, not only as a Soldier but as a female. In some nations women don’t get the opportunity that I have to be in the military and serve my country.  I hope they see that women can do a lot.”

 

“You hear in the media that there is a lack of communication and militaries from other nations aren’t working together, but this is living proof that we are communicating and educating ourselves about how different militaries run,” added Stevens, who plans to compete again for the Utah crown this summer as Miss Davis County.” It’s comforting to see that we are getting along and working together to better our lives and others’.”

 

The overall visit was well received by the foreign military officers, many of whom were making their first trip to Utah.

 

“There is so much going on in the National Guard that I was not aware of,” said Rear Admiral Michiel Hijmans, dean of the Defense Attache Corps, who is from the Netherlands. “I had no idea that there were so many people in the Utah National Guard who spoke so many languages. I was amazed to see how often you are being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas and what impact it has on Soldiers and families.”

 

“It was an amazing visit; I hope we can share it in our country,” reflected Hijmans. “We can learn so much from each other. I think the National Guard, and especially the linguists, they make it work, with cultural awareness and a willingness to share and discuss ideas and a better future.”

 

Maj. Gen. Tarbet also sees significant, positive impact from hosting members of foreign militaries here in Utah.

 

“The Guard and Reserve is such an integral part of the American Armed Forces,” he said. If an attaché were to come here, they would not get a glimpse of the totality of the picture until they received a briefing on what the Guard is and what it can do.”

 

“I value the attaché community,” Tarbet added. “I know the difficult and vital work they do. It’s important that we have friends and allies.”

Spc. Jill Stevens, 1-211th Aviation, upper right, tells foreign military attaché officers about her deployment experiences in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Spc. Jill Stevens, 1-211th Aviation, upper right, tells foreign military attaché officers about

her deployment experiences in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

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