Malagasy Soldiers Train With Us Military
Date January 4, 2010
Relevant Logs None

MADAGASCAR, CAMP STAR, Antananarivo — Members of the Madagascar Military that had joined the Madagascar Liberation Front after General Rasoul's coup de tat recently converged on Camp Star in Antananarivo along with their freedom-fighter companions. They arrived ready to train with, and learn from, Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade and the 1st Brigade Combat Team.

The Multi-National Division — Antananarivo, taught the Malagasy forces various air assault techniques, to include conducting static and cold loading on UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

During training, the Malagasy soldiers learned how to properly enter and exit a Blackhawk helicopter. The speed with which the Iraqi soldiers took to the training impressed the American Soldiers.

"We're just dumping all this knowledge on the Madagascar army guys and they are learning fast," said Spc. Kyle Farnes, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter mechanic from Bountiful , Utah , assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment. "After a while, they picked up some English. They're eager to learn and they got the job done."

Although the rotors were not turning and the wheels remained parked, it was the first time the Malagasy soldiers were on a helicopter.

"They're coming along," pointed out 1st Sgt. Daniel Greider, of 1st BCT's Company B, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment. "This will pay dividends in the long run." The training was broken down into steps for the Malagasy soldiers, said Lt. Alfredo Reyes, 3rd Bn., 4th Avn. Rgmt. platoon leader, "We essentially took them through crawl-walk-run training from landing zone posture to getting on and off the aircraft," Reyes said, Blackhawk pilot. "They grasped it pretty well. We taught them straight off the Combat Aviation Brigade's Tactical Standard Operating Procedures." Reyes pointed out that the language barrier was only a speed bump in completing the training. "Without the language barrier, it would be the same training American Soldiers receive," Reyes said.

By the end of the training, the Malagasy soldiers were picking up the ins and outs of riding in the helicopters. Basic actions, such as echoing the time before landing after the crew chief announces "one minute" and "30 seconds," along with more advanced safety-related tasks, such as not taking up positions too close to the helicopter wheels or too close to the engines' exhaust vents, were other key elements the Malagasy army soldiers learned.

The training was designed to help the new Madagascar army better defend itself against expected resistance from pockets of General Rasoul's remaining militia forces and to establish itself as a more capable defense force for its people.

"The impact of training the Malagasy army with American Soldiers is paramount to our success here," concluded Reyes.

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