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NEWS | Sept. 18, 2012

South Dakota National Guard 'trains the trainers' in Suriname

By 2nd Lt. Chad Carlson South Dakota National Guard

RAPID CITY, S.D. - South Dakota National Guard members spent two days in Suriname to support the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program.

The most recent exchange sent two South Dakota Army National Guard instructors to Suriname, their South American partner, to spend two days discussing training techniques in and out of the classroom.

South Dakota's participants are members of 2nd Battalion, 196th Regiment, which provides instruction in military occupational specialties to truck drivers, multiple launch rocket system crewmembers and operations/fire directions specialists.

Second battalion also provides functional course training, such as the Combat Lifesaver Course and the Modern Army Combatives Program, as well as assistance to unit commanders in scheduling and conducting training to increase individual and unit readiness.

"We had conducted previous exchanges with Suriname where we had the opportunity to look at their training and their facilities," said Lt. Col. John Weber, State Partnership Program director. "We assessed their needs based on what we saw and presented their chief of defense with our recommendations." One of those suggestions was to bring some South Dakota trainers down to work with their instructors."

South Dakota trainers focused on Suriname's basic combat training, noncommissioned officer and officer candidate programs.

"Their leadership was looking for ways to make training more effective," said Staff Sgt. Wade Vanderberg, South Dakota Army National Guard instructor. "So we discussed techniques that we use when addressing our audience, keeping them captivated, ways to tell if we're losing them and if so, how to draw them back in."

The South Dakota instructors made visits to classroom and field environments that included observing soldiers attending basic training.

"It was a very unique experience to see another country in their basic training environment," Vanderberg said. "I thought it was a good program and a good training site considering the limited resources they have. I think they do a good job using the resources they do have to create an environment sufficient to train their soldiers."

Suriname's training leadership spent most of the first day in discussions with the South Dakota trainers on specific issues they face ranging from limited resources to retaining quality instructors.

"Your instructors gave us insight in how to deal with a number of challenges that we are facing," said Capt. Korstam, a training officer in the Suriname army. "Every time we have exchanges we learn new things. When you are gone, we evaluate and apply as many of the techniques as possible. Because of our lack of resources, we can't apply everything the way we would like to but apply as many as we can."

"We hope to improve our standards and through South Dakota's trainers, their experience and recommendations, make some changes that will help us conduct our training exercises more professionally," said Capt. Cairo, commander and training officer in Suriname's army. "The State Partnership is a very good program and we are very happy to have you come over and share with us. Through this partnership Suriname receives a lot of benefits and we're looking forward to even more training."