DAKOTA DUNES, S.D. - With the help of a foreign exchange program, the South Dakota National Guard received assistance from British troops during the Missouri River flooding operations taking place in southeastern South Dakota.
Among those troops was Cpl. Arseny Barkovskiy, a British soldier with the Allied Rapid Corps’ Military Police Battalion, who traveled from his home in London June 10, to work with the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 235th Military Police Company for two weeks at Dakota Dunes as part of the U.S. Army’s Personnel Exchange Program.
The purpose of this program is for soldiers of participating nations to share military skills, experience different cultures and form friendships with the people they work with.
“I was integrated into the unit and did everything my U.S. counterparts did,” Barkovskiy said, who performed security and checkpoint operations with the 235th Soldiers, as well as military driver’s training.
Upon arrival to the flood operations in Dakota Dunes, Barkovskiy said he was impressed by the amount of assets involved in the operation.
“It’s been fascinating to see the resources you have at your disposal, especially at the state level with federal backing,” he said.
Reserve forces in the U.K. are not used for civil emergencies, such as flooding, but are designed to supplement the regular British forces overseas.
Army Spc. Caleb Fousek, a military policeman with the 235th, said his English counterpart was a great help to their operations.
“He has a very acute sense of what to look for,” Fousek said. “He’ll spot little details others might miss.”
One such detail was when the British soldier reported the description of a civilian cameraman who was filming in a restricted area, and was later found at a checkpoint based on that description.
This experience was only one of several that Barkovskiy said he shared with the Soldiers of the 235th during his two weeks in Dakota Dunes.
After working with South Dakota’s Soldiers, he said there are more similarities than differences between the National Guard and the British Reserves, with only subtle cultural variations distinguishing each force.
In the end, what impressed him the most was the kindness of the unit he worked with, Barkovskiy said.
“I’ve been blown away by the hospitality of [the 235th], the U.S. Army and South Dakota,” said Barkovskiy. “I can’t say enough good things about them.”