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Guard Mechanics Host Ecuadorians

Sept. 27, 2019 | By kentuckyguard

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane. 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

RICHMOND, Ky. – Several mechanics from around the state shared their knowledge and expertise with a small group of Ecuadorian mechanics as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP) Sept 16-20.

This is the second time the Ecuadorians have been able to make a visit to Kentucky and conduct training in a National Guard Combined Support Maintenance Shop.

“It’s a great experience for us and a great experience for them to train side by side,” said 1st Sgt. Ramon Perales, who is a mechanic working at the MATES on Fort Knox.

A few of the different projects the Soldiers worked together on were an engine swap on a 1097 Humvee and a transmission swap on an 1165 Humvee.

Working together allowed the Soldiers from both countries to have the opportunity to not only learn how each country does things differently in the shop, it also showed them how each others cultures, though different, were a lot a like.

“We get to see the cultural differences between our organizations as we interact with our society compared to how they interact here in our society,” said Perales.

Where they must get creative in what they can do because of available resources, we can be perceived as an organization that has unlimited resources. This isn’t always the case. We are working alongside our counterparts to learn from each other and steadily progress. It’s a slow and steady process.”

Thanks to several Spanish-speaking Soldiers within the mechanic shops, all the troops were able to talk to each other without much confusion and added stress.

“The language barrier is not a problem, we have some good interpreters here,” said Staff Sgt. Cleveland Willoughby, 307th Support Maintenance Company inspector at the CSMS.  “A lot of the Ecuadorians speak English fairly well so if you speak to them slowly they understand what you are saying.”

One of the main differences between the two countries is the availability of resources. Getting the tools to do the job in Ecuador isn’t always easy, whereas it is something we have few problems getting here.   

Ecuadorian Soldiers visit the CSMS shop in Richmond, Ky., as part of the State Partnership Program Sept. 18, 2019. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

“The tools make the job easier and the work faster,” stated Diego Tuquinga, a Soldier in the 125th Central Maintenance Unit with the Ecuadorian military, who has spent all eight years of his military experience as a general mechanic.

Having the tools to do the job certainly made things easier for the Soldiers who are used to having to do a lot of the work by hand. But that work ethic really helps accomplish the mission and impressed the American Soldiers.

“Working with them is a treat because they work incredibly hard and we got a lot accomplished faster than we expected because they have a lot of knowledge coming into the shop,” said Willoughby. “They have taught us quite a bit about the TCMS on the Humvee as well. How they do things is a lot different. They rebuild a lot, where we replace a lot.”

Overall the experience for the Soldiers has been positive and something they all can take back to their respective shops and add to their proverbial toolboxes as well as their literal toolboxes.

“The training has been excellent,” added Tuquinga.

The Kentucky National Guard has partnered with Ecuador for more than two decades as part of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program (SPP). The goal of the SPP is to develop and maintain important security relationships between the United States and other nations sharing a long-term view of common interests.

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