Posted on Mar 12, 2014
SPC David Wyckoff
8.84K
18
12
4
4
0

What differences have you encountered in working with the military members of other countries?



We were on a convoy moving forward and getting into position for the ground war kick off. We leave a fuel point and stage up in the desert north of the point. While waiting in line the five ton tractor/trailer I'm driving (one of the old WWII types) just goes dead. Before I can even get out the truck, convoy starts moving. Sgt in the vehicle behind me tells me that he will inform the 1st LT leading that we are down and send back help. So we two Pvts hunker down to wait. Never leave an Army vehicle unmanned, right?

Next morning still no one arrives. But we are hailed by some British soldiers. Come to find out there is a British Trans Regiment just over the dune. They come and tow inside their wire and find us places to rack out and we are assigned a sponsor.


First morning there I was summoned by the Regimental SGM to brief him on our problem. Mind you I was a PFC and my buddy was a Pv2. I brush myself off as best I can and try to get the grime and wrinkles out of my uniform. I approach, knock, wait. He calls to enter. I enter and report as best I know how. The briefing is fairly short and all the while I'm speaking to the RSGM I am calling him Sergeant Major. Yes SGM, No SGM. Will do, SGM. The young LCpl that is escorting me looks like he is going to puke.


When we are dismissed, I come to attention, about face and exit purposefully.


When we get outside the LCpl and I discuss at length military courtesy and customs.



So I learned. When reporting to the RSGM, you salute and report just as if they were an officer. You call them Sir or Maam and NEVER call them by their rank. When dismissed, you also salute.



I was later approached by the SGM in the chow tent and he asked me how I was being treated and if I was being well taken care of. I took that moment to apologize for my lack of understanding of the British customs and courtesies, ensuring that the LCpl got full credit for schooling me. It was an interesting three weeks I spent with that unit.


The day our unit came to get us was the day that the British unit was jumping forward. Had our unit not arrived, per the SGM orders, we were to be packed up and riding with our sponsors. We would remain with them until the next US unit could be found.

Edited 6 y ago
Avatar_feed
Responses: 7
1SG Steven Stankovich
3
3
0
That is a very interesting story.  It is amazing to see the differences in how militaries of different nations interact not only with us, but within their own ranks.  I am stationed in SHAPE Belgium and I regularly interact with military members of different nations, both enlisted and officers.  It has been a great learning experience.  Just like you learned customs and courtesies from the LCpl, I make it a point to ask when I interact with allies.  It never hurts to ask and it is often a great ice-breaker and it shows that you are interested in how they do business and that is never a bad thing.
(3)
Comment
(0)
SPC David Wyckoff
SPC David Wyckoff
6 y
<P>If I had been a little less wet behind the ears, militarily speaking, I would have known to at least ask a few questions before addressing anyone of rank. Luckily I didn't have to deal with a very wide language barrier.</P>
<P>&nbsp;</P>
<P>What is the common language in Belgium? </P>
(0)
Reply
(0)
1SG Steven Stankovich
1SG Steven Stankovich
6 y
The common language here for NATO is English...which is very convenient for me... ;)&nbsp;
(1)
Reply
(0)
LTC Paul Labrador
LTC Paul Labrador
6 y
Makes you wonder why Americans always get flak for not learning foreign languages... ;o)
(2)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
CSM Retired
2
2
0
Dave,

You handled yourself perfectly and I'm sure the Regimental SGM appreciated your "failed" attempt at military courtesy. Any senior leader worth their salt recognizes the difference between open contempt and disrespect versus even an incorrect form of professionalism.

In my years I have dealt with Soldiers from Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, the United Kingdom, etc....etc....etc.... Each nation has slightly different expectations regarding their lower enlisted Soldier's interactions with both NCOs (Warrant Officers in some countries) and officers.

I have never begrudged them their attempts at respect. It sounds to me like the LCPL aided you well regarding their customs and courtesies and the Regimental SGM appreciated your attempt.

In any event, I always love to hear about our interactions with our allies.

(2)
Comment
(0)
SPC David Wyckoff
SPC David Wyckoff
6 y

Roger that, CSM I. That first meeting went as well as it did due to the understanding and professionalism of the Regimental SGM.



I have to say I was also a little envious of their shaving regs. Both the RSGM and the head cook had some side burns that were worthy of a Civil War General.



(0)
Reply
(0)
CSM Retired
CSM (Join to see)
6 y
Gotta love a good set of chops!

(2)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
LCDR Vice President
1
1
0
Are our Allies spending enough on defense? Will we always have to be the policemen of the world?
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/22/pentagon-chief-carter-europe-not-doing-enough-on-defense/?intcmp=latestnews
(1)
Comment
(0)
Avatar_small

Join nearly 2 million former and current members of the US military, just like you.

close
Seg?add=7750261&t=2