Mission complete, partnership stronger
By Capt. Renee Lee , 113th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 16, 2014
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- District of Columbia National Guard and Jamaican Defence Force soldiers and airmen wrapped up a weeklong subject matter expert exchange here Friday.
During the course of the week, the combined and joint team of vehicle mechanics shared best practices on wheeled vehicle maintenance.
After a daylong orientation of the JDF's various vehicles and missions on the first day, the "Capital Guardians" rolled up their sleeves soon after and joined their Jamaican counterparts in fixing wheel bearings, adjusting alignment and using different tools and systems.
"We were here to provide our analyses and expertise to the JDF, and they provided us their expertise and knowledge," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Courtney Britton, 542nd maintenance company maintenance manager.
The U.S. team was here under the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program, a security cooperation program linking the United States' National Guard units with the armed forces of more than 70 partner nations. The D.C. National Guard has participated in the program with the JDF since 1999 on a range of topics.
As vehicle mechanics, the Capital Guardians and JDF colleagues shared many similarities, including the goal for their vehicles to be 100 percent mission-capable at all times.
"We shared what we bring to the table and they did the same, including many similar practices," said Senior Airman Butler, vehicle mechanic of the 113th Wing.
The exchange was also an opportunity for the D.C. team to observe their JDF counterparts creatively, analytically and manually approach their work with limited equipment.
"We have less technology that forces us to do greater analyses," said JDF Warrant Officer 1 Fitzgerald, H., JDF workshop manager. "We have a potpourri of vehicles so our skillset is very diverse and dynamic."
"They make everything work with the minimal resources they have," said Sgt. Girard King, vehicle mechanic, 273rd Military Police Co., whose main takeaway was being able to complete a mission without his usual resources. "They don't let anything go to waste and work very strategically. I learned from the JDF to think outside the box."
In addition to learning from each other, the exchange was also an opportunity for the Capital Guardians to work in a different cultural and professional environment.
"This was a very good learning experience for me," said Fitzgerald at the close-out briefing. "I don't have to be in the U.S. to understand what you're all about. Your ability to fit in and your enthusiasm for trying new things were refreshing."
"We shared different ideas on how we do things so we are always ready to serve locally and internationally," said JDF vehicle mechanic Sgt. Beadle, C. "The U.S. team got right into it like they worked here on a normal basis. That's an approach we should take anywhere we go."