TAPA, Estonia - We all remember show-and-tell time in kindergarten. That time of the school year when we're allowed to bring one of our favorite toys to school, sit in a semi-circle on the carpeted area at the back of the classroom, and eagerly await our turn to show off the plastic keepsake to all of classmates and explain exactly what it means to us.
It probably wasn't evident to our 6-year-old selves, but show-and-tell time was about more than just bragging about who had the newest and coolest toys, it was about coming together and learning about a group of people who we had little-to-no knowledge, sharing common interests, and laying the foundation for a lifelong friendship.
Although they aren't in kindergarten anymore, Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, used the show-and-tell technique to come together and bond with their Estonian counterparts as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014.
But instead of action figures, Etch-a-Sketch's, or Tamagotchi's, the soldiers of B Co. brought U.S. military equipment, weapons, and armored vehicles.
Staff Sgt. Darrell Stamps, master gunner for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, demonstrates how to use MK-19 grenade launcher during an exhibition of military weapons, equipment, and vehicles for a platoon of Estonian Conscripts on November 7, 2014. The U.S. Army Europe-led Atlantic Resolve, a multinational combined arms exercise involving the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and host nations, takes place across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to enhance multinational interoperability, to strengthen relationships among allied militaries, to contribute to regional stability, and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to NATO. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Koster)
“It's just fun to try these [weapons],” said Pvt. Ragnar P?rtelsohn, a conscript training at the Tapa training grounds. “The only weapon we have been able to shoot live rounds and blanks with is our main weapon and the MG3. [The American weapons are] lighter and the main weapons are much more customizable. We don't have top-of-the-line guns. They're older, but they're reliable.”
Some of the weapons showcased in the exhibit included the M4 carbine, M9 pistol, and MK-19 grenade launcher, just to name a few. The cavalry scouts also brought an M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and an M1126 Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle for the Estonians to climb in, look around, and even man the controls to the cannons on top of the vehicles.
Although the weapon systems and vehicles were the highlight of the exhibit, the interaction between the two countries' armies was about more than just flashy high-tech gadgets of war.
I think if you look at how armies and soldiers from other countries interact with each other, you'll see we're all typically the same, said Army Staff Sgt. Darrell Stamps, the company's master gunner. “Once you get them together in an environment where they can communicate with one another, kind of explore the dislikes and likes that they have about different countries' weapons systems, and just have soldier-to-soldier communication, I think it absolutely builds a bond.”
“You lose sight of that ‘I'm from a different country than you' and you start focusing on more of ‘I'm a soldier just like how you're a soldier and we have some of the same common interests,'” added Stamps, an Akron, Ohio native. “You start to see some of the soldiers loosen up and they're not just looking at each other in passing; they're actually talking, laughing, and joking together. You can see the bond, the relationship building between the two countries and the soldiers. It's a great opportunity.”
The exhibition was another way for the two countries to come together and continue to foster their commitment to one another as NATO allies, but the event also helped the individual soldier build relationships with his counterpart by breaking though stereotypes.
“Sometimes people have this impression that [the Americans] are cocky, but now I really like them. So far everyone has treated me very nicely,” said P?rtelsohn, a Rakvere, Estonia native.
“Working with the Estonians, coming to their country, being on their installation ... they have been very, very hospitable,” said Stamps. “They have done nothing but help us enhance our training. It's been a great time.”
The U.S. Army Europe-led Atlantic Resolve, a multinational combined arms exercise involving the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and host nations, takes place across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to enhance multinational interoperability, to strengthen relationships among allied militaries, to contribute to regional stability, and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to NATO.
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Koster
Provided through DVIDS
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