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NEWS | Dec. 6, 2023

Kentucky Guard combat medic trains with MREP exercise

By Andy Dickson, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

A Kentucky Army National Guard combat medic participated in the Military Reserves Exchange Program (MREP) in the United Kingdom and Estonia from June 27 through July 17, 2023.

Staff Sgt. Peter Fleming, with the Kentucky Medical Detachment, volunteered for the three-week training that involved infantry companies from the Virginia, Maryland, and Louisiana Army National Guard.

Once in the United Kingdom, Fleming and the three infantry companies were attached with the 7th Rifles Reserves of the Princess Wales War Regiment, also known as the Tigers, due to their Tiger patch, which comes from part of their rich history.

Once they were attached to the Tigers and completed training, they traveled to Estonia to work with the Estonian Army.

The National Guard infantry units were to train together with the UK and Estonian infantry companies as part of the Department of Defense’s MREP program, a program that is a professional development training opportunity to allow the reserve components of the United States military to train with NATO allies to enhance the ability to work and communicate together. During the experience, the expectation is to share training, doctrine, and operations techniques in preparation for a real-time war scenario.

“We trained in troop movement techniques, in full combat loads with crew-served weapons,” said Fleming. “The training was about using older Army doctrine different than what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trench warfare, using aluminum troop bridges to do water crossings, and conducting company level tactical patrols on farmlands.”

Fleming’s experience was different than the infantry Soldiers’; as a combat medic, he had additional taskings to take care of both real-world and scenario-based simulated injuries.

“What I didn’t prepare for was the number of mosquitoes and horseflies,” said Fleming. “To have me embedded with them to help take care of bug bites, twisted ankles, things like that, it was a real morale booster for them. They usually don’t have a medic in the exercise with them, so it provided some more opportunities to keep Soldiers in the fight.”

This was not just an opportunity for Fleming to participate in individual training but what lessons he could bring back to the Kentucky Army National Guard.

Col. Timothy Starke, the director of operations for the Kentucky Army National Guard, highlighted the importance of Fleming’s training.

“Staff Sgt. Fleming’s experience training in the challenging climate and terrain of Eastern Europe provided him with tactics, techniques, procedures and best practices that he will now share with leaders across the Kentucky Army National Guard,” said Starke. "To prepare for combat against a near-peer adversary, we need to study the evolving technologies and tactics being employed on the modern battlefield and incorporate those lessons into our training. We will leverage Staff Sgt. Fleming’s MREP experience to educate and inform formations throughout the organization.”

Fleming how the Kentucky Army Guard’s assets mirror those used during the exercise.

“Over there, they used their engineer assets to dig trenches and fighting positions for their training,” said Fleming. “We have those units in the state. If our engineers and infantry were to train together, to have infantry and engineer officers to plan together, we can be ready for anything.”

Once Fleming returned to Kentucky, he conducted an after-actions review with his chain of command and the DoD’s MREP team.

“The state has become very interested in becoming more involved in the MREP and how to get NATO Soldiers here to Kentucky. I’m very interested in seeing how this evolves in the next few years,” added Fleming.

Much like the State Partnership Program, Starke described how important it is for our National Guard and Reserve Force to interact in a joint environment.

“Staff Sgt. Fleming’s participation in the MREP mission was incredibly important for the Kentucky Army National Guard,” said Starke.

“His contributions to the British unit he was assigned to demonstrate the ability of U.S. Army Soldiers to rapidly and effectively integrate with the militaries of our NATO partners. Soldiers, and especially leaders in the Kentucky National Guard must be comfortable operating in joint and multi-national environments to be prepare for large scale combat operations, and Staff Sgt. Fleming did that with distinction.”

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