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NEWS | May 18, 2017

149th MET bolsters Army mission in Middle East

By Capt. Desiree Dillehay Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Soldiers of the 149th Military Engagement Team reached the midpoint of their overseas deployment in April 2017 after spending the last five months working with partner nation military members throughout the Arabian Peninsula, the Greater Levant, and Central and South Asia.

“The 149th MET's impact from the command team's point of view is substantial,” said MET Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Withers. “We have directly seen and heard the relationships that have been built with key and senior leaders of our partner nations. These relationships are the key to the success of our partner nations and our mutually beneficial objectives of regional stability and security.”

So far, members of the MET have conducted engagements and participated in exercises in Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, with plans to add Egypt, Uzbekistan and Pakistan to the list.

These engagements and exercises have put the team’s robust set of military and civilian skills to use by including a variety of topics, such as logistics, communications, Infantry tactics, staff operations, engineering, military police operations and professional development.

The ability to speak on a variety of engagement topics is a testament to not just the 149th MET’s success, but also to the effectiveness of National Guard units that fill the role of military engagement team in the U.S. Army Central area of responsibility.

“The diversity of the 149th MET team is critical to its success,” said Withers. “This diversity of military and civilian skills allows the MET to be flexible and adaptive during engagements and build stronger relationships with our partners. We don't come to an engagement being one-dimensional and 100 percent adherent to an agenda. Our team can speak on a wide range of subjects.”

The 149th MET is the eighth military engagement team to serve under USARCENT, and the Soldiers have used their skills to build upon the success of the previous teams, as well as to find common ground with soldiers from partner nations.

“The 149th MET has displayed an excellent ability to remain flexible and adaptable to an ever changing engagement landscape. (They’ve) displayed mindfulness when facing any problem and come through in delivering a quality engagement to our partners,” Withers said.

“Now after being on multiple engagements I understand how important the MET is to the overall success of the U.S. Army Central mission,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Dornbusch, supply sergeant for the 149th MET. “With a small amount of Soldiers the MET has successfully maneuvered around a vast area of responsibility, has continuously developed relationships and remains to build partnerships with every engagement. This is through long hours of coordination and planning. Every MET Soldier has contributed to the overall success of this mission.”

These engagements aren’t just about exchanging information though, it’s also about connecting with the soldiers and experiencing the cultures of the nations they’ve visited. Every member of the MET agrees that the relationships are the most rewarding aspect of their mission.

“Relationship building … is the most challenging and rewarding part of the deployment,” said Dornbusch. “Even with language barriers and cultural differences we have found common ground among the Soldiers of each nation. We share a lot of the same experiences. We train, we deploy, we spend time away from our families, and we have pride for our God and country.”

Soldiers that are tasked with liaison officer duties at several embassies have had opportunities to build relationships with members of a single partner nation day in and day out.

“The most rewarding part of interacting with Omani soldiers has been getting to know a culture of people that is genuinely friendly, willing to listen to other viewpoints, and accepting of the differences of other cultures,” said Maj. James Schmitz, 149th MET liaison officer to Oman.

Schmitz has had two previous deployments, one of which he served on an Agribusiness Development Team, and said that his National Guard experiences have set him up to successfully operate with and understand different cultures.

Lt. Col. Joe Warren, chief liaison officer for the 149th MET, seconded Schmitz’s statement, adding that it’s about “getting to know real people and make friends.”

The 149th MET will continue to make these great strides in building relationships and interoperability throughout the region as they finish out their tour, and set their replacements, the Georgia National Guard’s 648th MET, up for continued success.

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