Sauquoit resident Lt. Christian Larrabee, a New York National Guard office, conducts exchange program with British Army
LATHAM, NY (11/02/2018) New York Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Christian Larrabee, Sauquoit resident, spent two weeks in September training along side soldiers from the British Army Reserve.
Larrabee, a platoon leader in the New York Army National Gquuuard's Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry Regiment, which is based in Morrisonville, Clinton County, took part in an Army National Guard exchange program.
Larrabee was assigned to command a platoon of the British Fifth Royal Regiment of Fusiliers during their annual training rotation at the .NATO Multinational Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare in the Julian Alps of Slovenia.
The Fusiliers training was part of a multinational training exercise known as Triglav Star 2018.
"The experience provided me with invaluable training, the chance to see the world and the chance to meet friends from around the world, "Larrabee said.
"I experienced the challenges and benefits of interoperability first hand and got to see how other nation's fight," Larrabee said.
"I learned what tactics and kits work best in different environments and for different units and I was also able to contribute valuable insight from U.S. Army doctrine and test those tactics while in command of a British platoon," he said.
Larrabee has served in the New York Army National Guard since 2016.
Larrabee's experience from September 10-21, 2018, highlights the program's benefits; placing American Soldiers with allied partners, in this case for challenging mountain warfare training.
The Military Exchange Program places National Guard Soldiers in units from America's allied partners, including the German Army, the British Army Reserve, the Danish Home Guard and Estonian Army.
In return, these nations deploy military members to participate in a host unit two-week annual training back in New York.
Each general officer command in the New York Army National Guard annually nominates Soldiers to attend.
Soldiers who participate can be company grade officers, Warrant Officers 1 through 3 and NCOs from Sgt. through Sgt. 1st Class who best represent the organization. Soldiers selected must be worldwide deployable, not on a temporary profile, be able to participate in field exercises and be compliant with Army physical fitness and medical deployment standards.
Historically two to five Soldiers are selected by a combined Office of the Secretary of Defense, National Guard Bureau and NATO committee after being vetted and prioritized by New York.
Larrabee led a platoon of Fusiliers through various training lanes, culminating with an attack across the high alpine mountains.
The exchange program provided opportunities to train at the squad, platoon and even company level.
"I was able to command a platoon of U.K. soldiers on a successful platoon attack comprised of four in-depth enemy positions over rugged terrain," Larrabee said. "It was enlightening to learn how the U.K. army fights and draw similarities with our own U.S. tactics. I was able to both benefit from their techniques and provide them with useful solutions from our doctrine."
Units taking part in the exercise came from the Slovenian armed forces, U.S. and British forces, he said.
The U.S. component also included 100 Colorado Army National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, a mountain warfare unit. The battalion is part of the Colorado National Guard's State Partnership Program with Slovenia.
"It was a grueling climb to the top and a complex fight across the mountain ridgeline scattered with pill boxes and trench systems," he said. "Simulated casualties were extracted via helicopter rescue and provided an added touch of realism to the exercise."
The training is an opportunity every junior leader should seek out, whether officer or NCO, Larrabee said.
"There are very few opportunities in the Army Guard that afford the experience and benefits of the Military Exchange Program," he said. "It gives young leaders the opportunity to develop critical skills in mission planning and execution alongside our allied partners. You get to see the world and meet incredible people."
"Be ready to have fun, but be ready to be challenged. This experience will test communication skills, leadership style, and the mental and physical stamina of a leader," Larrabee said.