RIGA, Latvia - This month, Michigan Army National Guard Soldiers from the 177th Military Police Brigade, Taylor, Michigan, are training with their Latvian army counterparts in investigating traffic accidents at the National Defense Academy as preparation for the upcoming Operation Silver Arrow exercise hosted by the Latvians.
Latvia and Michigan are in their 21st year of partnership in the Department of Defense sponsored military-to-military State Partnership Program. Silver Arrow is a Latvian military exercise incorporating armed forces from Latvia, Estonia, Norway the United Kingdom and U.S. military from the Michigan National Guard and from United States Army Europe in conjunction with Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Latvian instructors oversaw the training, although the information-passing was mutually shared between the Armed Forces participating.
The Latvian military police staged vehicles as if in a side-impact collision, then soldiers took turns acting as drivers or training as investigators.
"A platoon of American military police came here and we're training to deal with a traffic accident," says Sgt. Eugene Guyevskis, an instructor with the Latvian military. "It's not like a full investigation, but what we are doing is to make an initial incident report and to draw a sketch plan."
The training included arriving at the scene as if it were a real accident, taking statements from the drivers, measuring objects on the scene and drawing scene sketches.
It only took a few minutes to notice some differences between the two countries' handling of car crashes.
"Today the Latvians have shown us how their accident investigation paperwork works and it's truly a much simplified format compared to our four-page military police accident investigation report," said Sgt. Maj. Edward Williams, leader of the Michigan contingent's military police team. "It could actually be simplified quite a bit by looking at how they run their format."
Williams also added that the primary outcome from the day's activities was a closer, lasting, relationship with the Latvian military police.
Training will continue through the first week in October and will culminate in a three-day Silver Arrow exercise in Adazi.