NEWS | April 18, 2018

Tajik and U.S. Soldiers build mountaineering skills

By Sgt. 1st Class Ty McNeeley U.S. Army Central

Soldiers with the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan and the U.S. Army worked together to share mountain warfare tactics and techniques, April 18, 2018.

This information exchange was part of a larger military-to-military engagement between the Tajikistan Peacekeeping Battalion of the Mobile Forces and the 648th Military Engagement Team, Georgia Army National Guard, involving border security tactics and techniques.

“We’re here to exchange information about border security, especially as it’s related to mountain warfare and operating in this type of environment,” said 1st Lt. Gregory “Matts” Wilcoxen, platoon leader, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.. “They can take some lessons from us and we take some lessons from them on how they’re keeping their borders secure and how they’re fighting in this type of terrain.”

One of the main focuses of this engagement was movement in the mountainous terrain of Tajikistan.

“We’ve been going over basic mountaineering skills,” said Wilcoxen. “That’s covered rappelling, some climbing, ascending and how to work together in a mountainous environment… moving with heavy bags, how to rappel as a group, and to be able to fight in this type of terrain.”

The weather in April can be unpredictable at high elevation. Snowfall made for an unexpected challenge for the soldiers of both nations.

“We came into this expecting a little bit of rain up here, we were definitely surprised this morning when we drove up and there was a significant amount of snow on the ground,” said Wilcoxen. “The Tajiks understand certainly that the weather isn’t always going to cooperate and that can affect what we do so this is, if anything, a better way to train. They’ve been very eager to get out in this environment and complete the plan.”

Some of the benefits of the exchange go beyond the tactical information that the armies are sharing to the camaraderie being built between the soldiers.

“We’ve been here for a little while, and not only are the Tajiks very friendly, very eager to learn and eager to share, but it’s just such a beautiful environment that we’re in,” said Wilcoxen. “We’re stationed in Kuwait, so this is a really nice change and it’s also giving us the chance to practice some skills that we don’t get to exercise much in different environments. It’s been a big change and definitely a welcomed change.”