Danes command the hills in Golden Coyote training - KOTA Territory News

Danes command the hills in Golden Coyote training

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Staff Sgt. Eduardo Hertado was integrated into a Danish platoon during Golden Coyote.  (photo by Jack Siebold) Staff Sgt. Eduardo Hertado was integrated into a Danish platoon during Golden Coyote. (photo by Jack Siebold)
Smoke simulates an explosion on a convoy during mounted patrol training in Custer State Park.  (photo by Jack Siebold) Smoke simulates an explosion on a convoy during mounted patrol training in Custer State Park. (photo by Jack Siebold)
A Danish Home Guard soldier fires at hostiles from his convoy Humvee.  (photo by Jack Siebold) A Danish Home Guard soldier fires at hostiles from his convoy Humvee. (photo by Jack Siebold)

by Jack Siebold, MyTown editor

For more than a week, 35-hundred soldiers, mostly American but also a smattering of other nationalities, have been honing their combat skills in the Black Hills in the National Guard's training exercise called Golden Coyote.

During one of the combat training scenarios, a group of Danish Home Guard "civilian" soldiers proved they can hang with the Yanks while their American counterparts learned that language isn't as much of a barrier as they thought.

In the heat of a firefight, communication is key to survival.  For Staff Sergeant Eduardo Hertado of the 94th Military Police, a National Guard unit from New Hampshire, his ability to understand his squad leader is severely hampered by his … well … nonexistent Danish.  "We didn't know how we were going to communicate with them," Hertado said.

Hertado and five other MPs were tossed into a Danish mixed force protection platoon as part of a training exercise in Custer State Park Tuesday.  With only one previous encounter a couple of days ago at the squad level, this multi-national platoon exercise was going to be a challenge.

"Luckily they all spoke English and when they were speaking to each other over the comm, I had one of them translate to me, telling me what was going on at all times," Hertado explained.   "I felt like I was part of the team, not an outsider."

Fortunately for the Americans, Danes are about as good with their English as they are with their M-16 assault rifles.  Both skills were put to the test in several attack scenarios.  The four-hour mounted patrol exercise drilled the platoon on not only hostile action but also communication and how they handled their own casualties.

Sgt. Klaus Wohlert, a light reconnaissance soldier with 26 years of active and Home Guard service, is familiar with American culture but only as a tourist.  This was his first time going shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers.  "The first couple of days we more or less worked as our own platoon, with the Danish guard.  And quite quickly we started to mix up with the Americans," Wohlert said.

"I actually think, maybe some of them (American soldiers) were a bit surprised, because we are mostly civilians, that we will be soldiers they can rely on.  I think they trust us if we are next to them, and the other way around," Wohlert added.

Hertado was one of the surprised Americans.  While both the American Army National Guard and Danish Home Guard have similar tactics, the MPs are noted to "shoot and scoot" when engaging hostile forces, staying with their convoy for protection.  The Danes have a different approach.

"Dismounting with them, at first I didn't know what to expect," Hertado said.  "I thought we were just going to dismount and walk up the road and just see if there was a possible IED.  I didn't expect to go running up and down the hills looking for hostiles.  And that's what we ended up doing.  And we communicated effectively."

For Wohlert, Golden Coyote was the final test in his platoon's ability to perform combat missions.  Besides never having worked with American soldiers before, until three months ago, the 30 Danes hadn't even worked with each other.

"We came over here to see if we are as good as them.  No offense to anybody but yes we are, actually," Wohlert said.  "I think that's a very good experience for us but also for the Americans."

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