U.S. Army Europe, German medics join forces to fight improvised explosive devices

March 1, 2013

By Sgt. 1st Class Randall Jackson, 30th Medical Command

A German Army soldier (left) and his U.S. Army comrade carry a role-player acting as an injured troop to safety during joint training with the U.S. Army in Europe's 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion at the Baumholder (Germany) Training Area, Feb. 20. The training helps USAREUR strengthen its interoperability with European partner nation forces and set the conditions to build coalitions for future overseas contingency operations.  (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Randall Jackson)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe’s 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion and their partners from the German 950th Operation Information Battalion assist a simulated casualty during combined counter-improvised explosive device training in Baumholder, Germany Feb. 20. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Randall Jackson)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany – When the heat, flames and explosion from the simulated improvised explosive device blast rocked their Dingo, German soldiers reacted quickly, speeding through the kill zone to safety.

The scenario was part of a counter-IED and convoy live-fire exercise in Baumholder, Germany, Feb. 20. The U.S. Army in Europe's 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion hosted their German partner unit, the 950th Operation Information Battalion for the training.

“When you get an IED going off next to you, it’s very important to stay focused,” said German Lt. Torben Anders.

The Germans’ Dingo, an infantry mobility vehicle similar to the U.S. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, was among many German and U.S. vehicles used for the training. The 421st MMB, a subordinate unit of the Sembach, Germany-based 30th Medical Command, provided Humvees, drivers, simulated casualties and an opposing force. To add to the realism of the event, German polizei provided pyrotechnic devices, with guidance from a counter-IED expert from USAREUR's Joint Multinational Training Command.

Staff Sgt. April Riddle, a 421st food inspector, played a village elder during the training.

“We’re all working for one cause,” Riddle said. “We fight together, so why not train together?”

Roughly 60 German troops took part in the training. As many have yet to deployed to combat, their leaders understand the importance of these exercise scenarios beforehand.

“These training drills, that’s what keeps our guys alive. If it comes to an IED, you can never prepare soldiers too much,” said German Capt. Tim Hoersch, a platoon leader from the 6th Company, 950th Operation Information Battalion. Hoersch returned from an Afghanistan deployment a month ago.

“Training, training, training ... harder, faster, more often,” Hoersch said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The 421st conducts multinational training frequently. In the last eight months, the battalion trained has with Lithuanian, Slovenian and African forces. During the past four months, they have partnered with the 950th for training several times.

Spc. Jvonte Guthery, a 64th Medical Detachment food inspector, served as a convoy driver. Guthery found that German and U.S. troops have a lot in common.

“They’re just like us, really. We’ve basically been having fun training. We’re with each other from sunup to sundown,” Guthery said. “When we go downrange, it’s not just us -- it’s all of us. One team, one fight.”

About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned to advance American strategic interests across Eurasia and has unparalleled capability to prevent conflict, shape the environment and, if necessary, win decisively. The relationships we build during more than 1000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships, and enhance global security.