British, American troops train in history-making exercise

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
British, American troops train in history-making exercise
Joint training exercises with British and American troops are taking place at Fort Bragg

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Generations of American and British troops have worked alongside one another in war. But in the war of the future, they may just be able to work together as one unit.

That's the goal behind joint training exercises taking place at Fort Bragg for the next seven weeks. About a thousand British paratroopers are working with the 82nd Airborne Division to learn to speak the same tactical language.

"The landscape in the future is menacing," said Lieutenant Colonel Mike Shervington, battalion commander of the 3 Parachute, 16th Air Assault Brigade of the British Army. "And if you can bring two nations together that have an aggressive outlook, enjoy their soldiering, study their profession deeply, then that landscape becomes slightly less menacing."

Call it a two-year vision coming to fruition.

"It's a relationship that our political masters and our heads of both Armies have come up with," said Shervington. "In the next two or three years there will be a brigade of British paratroopers operating inside the 82nd Airborne Division, and that's how the relationship will keep on snowballing out."

"True inter-operatability is for us to be able to work in the same battle space with Americans," said SGT. Bill Smart, a platoon sergeant with the British troops. "American sighting systems and reconnaissance groups guiding my platoon, English platoons, British platoons, onto a target and destroying it."

The paratroopers are stationed about an hour north of London, and began flying into Fort Bragg last week. With them come their own military vehicles. About 60 had been shipped across the Atlantic by Wednesday afternoon.

"We've got all of our equipment here because it's not just showing the Americans what we're all about, but actually we want to win the fight that the Americans give us," said Shervington. "We don't want to just stay in the drop zone. We want to go service those targets that they give us and we can only do that with our equipment."

The training includes working with one another's weapons, vehicular, and air systems.

"We've been looking at what abilities they've got and what they can bring to the party as of when we deploy," said Smart.

The challenges of working together in this capacity begin to build when you start talking regulations and policies, said Shervington. But soldiers are enjoying the task.

"The biggest thing is nomenclature, a lot of times we use a lot of acronyms and everything so you've got to spell everything out," said Staff Sergeant Britton Breass, an 82nd rifle squad leader. "I like to talk a little fast a lot of times so I have to slow down just a little bit."

And historically, Shervington reminds this is not a new idea.

"We're not rewriting stuff," he said. "We've done this before at war in a very vicious war against facism, and if I could bet a bottom dollar it would be we'd be doing this again soon."

Shervington said the hospitality around Fayetteville has been first-class for his troops.

I cannot express how welcoming this has been received," said Shervington.

Myrtle Beach and New York City top the list of places the British troops are looking forward to visiting during R&R in the United States.

"So people are going Vegas, there are Harley Davidson trips being planned," laughed Shervington. "And the whole seven-week package will be exactly why people join both armies."

"For us in free power, it's a relationship we're just dusting off the old book."

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