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.
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.