News | July 26, 2022

Military Reserve Exchange Program National Guard & Reserve Growing Partnerships to Last a Lifetime

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Wilhoit, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Military Reserve Exchange Program (MREP) was hosted at Camp Nymindegab, Denmark July 1-8, 2022 by the Danish Home Guard (DHG). Over 50 reservists and National Guard members from 18 different states and Puerto Rico, combined with around 90 military members from four countries including, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania took part in this joint, multinational program.
 

The MREP, selects United States National Guard and Reserve members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The selected participants are part of a one-for-one exchange of personnel from a NATO allied country.

 

The goal of MREP is to integrate participants into the host-country’s reserve forces, in order to increase interoperability, strengthen partnerships, and to enhance professional development.

 

“The Danish Home Guard Training Center (HGTC) is an amazing training facility, they open their doors once a year for U.S. service members participating in MREP to attend their Leadership Course, Basic Instructor Course and Advanced Instructor Course,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Patricia Labandeira, Air National Guard (ANG) MREP Program Manager. “As the MREP Program Manager for the ANG, I was honored to attend the Basic Instructors Course this year, it is an experience I will never forget!”

 

Participants were selected for one of three courses offered during the MREP based upon rank and leadership skill levels. The three courses offered for U.S. troops in 2022 were the Leadership, Basic Instructor and Advanced Instructor Courses.

 

The Leadership Course covers topics such as teambuilding, ‘the role of a leader’, self- awareness, National Guard structure and objectives, communication, conflict management, motivation and team leadership development.

 

In contrast, the Basic and Advanced Instructor Courses cover varying levels of preparing lessons, self- evaluation, learning theory, joint experiences, didactics, methods of evaluation, presentations, and a certification for instructing.

 

“The Basic Leader Course has placed me outside of my comfort zone,” said U.S. Army Sergeant Joshua Richardson, Indiana Army National Guard. “I have learned how to become a better leader and my comfort level interacting with others has increased.”

 

The MREP also partners with the National Guard and Reserves to train members of the DHG on U.S. teaching styles. One of the courses taught by the U.S. was the Common Faculty Development Program – Instructor Course (CFDP-IC), a course designed to develop adaptive instructors who teach, train, counsel, assess, evaluate, and facilitate learning for Army personnel. This year four members of the South Dakota National Guard, Master Sgt. Trent Edburg, Master Sgt. Jeremy Brady, Staff Sgt. Joshua Nilson and Staff Sgt. Joshua Lunzman, were selected to teach CFDP-IC principles and methods to a group of DHG Soldiers.

 

“The Military Reserve Exchange Program strengthens partnerships with our NATO allies through relationships and cultural understanding,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ian Stegherr, Senior Enlisted Leader, ANG operations. “The personal interactions had through exchanges like the Danish Home Guard Basic Instructor course might be critical to the success of these Senior NCO’s in future conflicts.”

 

The objective of the MREP is to enhance professional development with military members from our NATO allied countries to gain a better understanding of how each country is organized, and how they train and operate.

 

“The Military Reserve Exchange Program provides National Guard and Reserve Soldiers an opportunity to train with our partner nations,” said U.S. ARNG Major Steven Parker, ARNG International Programs and Exchanges Coordinator. “For the individual Soldier, this professional development opportunity creates lifelong relationships while increasing individual readiness and gives the National Guard and Reserves a positive medium to foster strategic relationships with our allies.”

 

U.S. Air Force Captain Matthew Murray from the New York Air National Guard was grateful to have been chosen for a second opportunity to participate in MREP. In 2019 he was a participant of the MREP; this year he was selected to come back to Denmark as an instructor for the Basic Instructor Course.

 

“To be one of the few Basic Instructor Course attendees invited back for 2022 is nothing short of an honor,” said Murray. “It’s a whole new challenge and so far, it’s been a lot of fun instructing and growing with my students.”

 

Inviting previous years participants back to instruct is a concept the DHG is trying to promote. It gives the DHG the opportunity to maintain good relationships with the participants, and also allows them to evaluate the participants as full time instructors to further develop their skills as a trainer.

 

To complement this unique exchange program, time is also set aside to gain a better understanding of the host- country’s culture and way of life. MREP participants at the end of the course have two days set aside for cultural immersion.

 

In this case, the DHG takes the participants to Copenhagen, Denmark. to learn the country’s history and gain a cultural understanding of the Danish people. This is a time for camaraderie and fellowship outside the uniform as they get to experience the beautiful country of Denmark.

 

Nominations for MREP participants for fiscal year 2023 occur in the fall/ winter-time frame. Applicants are usually selected by February of the program year and MREP exchanges must be completed by the end of the fiscal year. Each service has different requirements for applying, but typically includes an application, personal statement and latest fitness scores.

 

The MREP Program is a very unique program, that allows National Guard and Reservist the opportunity to grow with our partner nations and gain a dynamic understanding of how our allied countries operate.

 

“Having this understanding strengthens partnerships and builds relationships to last a lifetime,” said Stegherr. “The MREP is one of the best resources available to the National Guard/ Reserves when it comes to training with our allies to increase interoperability.”