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NEWS | May 24, 2024

Idaho Guardsmen Train with Canadian and Polish Allies

By Maj. Robert Taylor, Idaho Army National Guard

BOISE, Idaho—For Soldiers of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, annual training was an international affair. The brigade’s headquarters conducted a command post exercise May 4-18, in which soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces participated, and Polish Land Forces observed and conducted a subject-matter expert exchange.

Fostering relationships with the 41st CBG and 1st Warsaw Armor Brigade allows Soldiers of the 116th CBCT the unique opportunity to train with allied partners,” said Col. Eric Orcutt, Idaho National Guard chief of the joint staff and former 116th CBCT commander. “It allows our Soldiers the ability to learn how other forces operate, build friendships and develop cultural understanding with a force they could potentially work with on future missions.”

Approximately 16 field grade officers from the 41st Canadian Brigade Group, headquartered in Calgary, formed a brigade staff to participate in the 116th CBCT’s staff exercise May 11-16.

The exercise was the third interaction between the two units since November and gave soldiers from both armies the chance to work with a foreign unit without crossing an ocean.

“Canada is an allied nation that supports the same missions we do,” said Lt. Col. Cody Rutz, the 116th CBCT’s executive officer. “It’s easier for us to test interoperability with a NATO partner if we can train with our neighbor instead of having to travel to Europe.”

The 41st Canadian Brigade Group is an Army Reserve Formation of the 3rd Canadian Division. Like the 116th CBCT’s Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers, most of its Soldiers serve their country part-time while serving their communities in times of need. Members of the unit have also deployed in support of the Global War on Terror and to Europe.

“We have a lot of common ground,” said Rutz. “Training with the 41st lets us train with a unit who has experience in the same environments that we do.”

Canadian soldiers also attended the 116th CBCT’s change of command ceremony May 17, as Col. Jason Gracida took over as the unit’s top officer following Orcutt’s three-year command tour.

During the same week, the Idaho National Guard hosted two maneuver battalion commanders and one operations officer from Poland as part of the state’s State Partnership Program.

Members of the Polish Land Forces’ 1st Warsaw Armor Brigade observed the brigades’ CPX and conducted subject-matter expert exchanges with members of the 116th CBCT.

As the armor partner to the Illinois National Guard’s state partnership with Poland, the Idaho National Guard has maintained a relationship with the Polish Land Forces for approximately 2.5 years. Polish soldiers observed the brigade’s combined arms rehearsal, viewed Bradly Fighting Vehicle gunnery, and toured maintenance facilities. They also discussed their own requirements for maneuver operations, training, maintenance, logistics, intelligence, and force generation with US Soldiers.

“Poland’s expertise on the use and employment of the tank in formations is second to none amongst the allies and partners of the United States,” said Maj. Jace Thayer, Idaho SPP director. “We recognize that we can learn as much from the members of the Polish Land Forces as they can from us, which is what makes this unique partnership so valuable to the men and women of the Idaho National Guard.”



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