SINGO, Uganda - When Army Sgt. Krystal Earles, a team leader with the Texas Army National Guard's 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, became a noncommissioned officer, she immediately learned the importance of accountability. Ever since then, she has passed on this fundamental leadership skill to junior NCOs.
"'Where are your Soldiers?,' that was the first thing my senior sergeants would ask me when I was promoted," said Earles. "I immediately realized how fundamentally important this was. To best lead your Soldiers, you have to know where they're at, not only geographically, but physically and mentally as well."
This basic skill was one item that formed the basis of an exchange program as part of Peace Support Operations Soldier Skills Field Training that she and fellow U.S. Soldiers held with their Uganda Peoples Defense Force counterparts.
As part of the training, Earles and the other Soldiers from 3rd Sqdrn., 124th Cav. Regt. shared their experience and best practices on basic infantry skills.
"We discussed topics like maneuvering through the jungle, establishing a support-by-fire position, guiding your Soldiers through suppressive fire, breaching an obstacle, and finally, seizing the objective," Earles said.
The discussions were followed by practical exercises conducted by the Ugandan soldiers. For Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Stille, the professionalism and motivation in which these tasked were carried out by the Ugandan soldiers was one of the things he appreciated the most.
"It was good to see how well the Ugandan soldiers performed during the live-fire exercises," Stille said. "They were very motivated to put all that was discussed to the test. You could tell they were very proud of how they performed the assaults and tasks given."
The Ugandan and U.S. Army noncommissioned officers worked together to help mentor more than 3,500 Ugandan soldiers. Earles believes the union, with the different leadership styles and varied experiences, contributed to the success.
"It was interesting to see how Ugandan noncommissioned officers worked with their soldiers," Earles said. "When it was my turn to share my experiences, I immediately referred to my beginnings as an NCO and simply asked them, 'Where are your soldiers?'"