NEWS | May 3, 2013

South Dakota Soldiers collaborate with Suriname special forces

By Sgt. 1st Class David Dodds 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

REPUBLIC OF SURINAME - Three South Dakota National Guard Soldiers traveled to the Republic of Suriname April 16 - 18 to provide instruction on the Harris radio system to Surinamese Special Forces soldiers.

This exchange was conducted through the National Guard's State Partnership Program, which provides unique partnership capacity-building capabilities to combatant commanders through partnerships between U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia and foreign countries.

This is the third subject matter expert exchange between the SDNG and the Suriname military that focused on modernizing and expanding communications capabilities. The first two exchanges consisted of an assessment of the Surinamese communications capabilities and limitations, presenting that assessment and formulating a plan to enhance their communications.

"The goal in this exchange was for the Suriname forces to develop a training plan for their own soldiers," said Lt. Col. John Weber, Suriname Partnership Program coordinator for the SDNG. "The KST (Suriname Special Forces) was originally trained by United States Special Forces on the use of the Harris radios. We provided them with a refresher (overview), at a slightly higher level, in order to develop better methods to transfer those skills to their people."

The South Dakota and Suriname partnership was formally established in August of 2006. Since then, numerous exchanges have taken place where South Dakota service members travel to Suriname and vice versa to complete various military engagements.

This exchange provided more detailed information on the range and capabilities of the Harris radios and included a field training exercise that allowed the Suriname soldiers to employ the radio in the inland regions of the country, where reception and interference can become an issue.

"Prior to fielding the Harris radios to them, their primary means of communication was cell phones. That only worked where there was reception, which is not good in the interior of the country," said Weber.

The field exercise was a success, according to Staff Sgt. David Goodwin, SDNG's frequency coordinator and trainer on this mission.