WIESBADEN, Germany — Shots echo through the Wackernheim Firing Range as members of the Hessen Polizei, soldiers of the Bundeswehr and Military Police of U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden refine their skills in a joint exercise March 15-17.
Polizeihauptkommissar Ecko Niebergall, a trainer at the Hessen Police Academy located in Wiesbaden, said the exercise was a unique opportunity to build high-risk response skills in a multi-national group, and it came about in conjunction with an annual train-the-trainer exercise in Nürnberg with Team 1 trainers from the United States.
"They bring 300 law enforcement personnel from all over Europe to Nürnberg each year to provide them with high-speed training for challenging situations," said Niebergall. "The Polizei Academy and the MPs from the garrison have what I believe is a unique partnership in Germany. We do a major training event together in Wiesbaden every year. This year, we thought it would be great to get Team 1 to extend their Germany tour by three days."
The three-day exercise put the Polizei Academy in charge of coordinating the event, whereas their counterparts from the garrison helped by providing the facilities, including the firing range at McCully Barracks, Wackernheim.
The 33 participants were selected from seven German states as well as Switzerland and the German Bundeswehr. The U.S. garrison got four slots. "It's great that we got four of our MPs to participate free of charge," said Staff Sgt. Walter Tobash, who is with the garrison's Directorate of Emergency Services and coordinated the training event on the U.S. side.
"This training is new to me; I'm still fairly new to the MP business," said Sgt. Daniel Joyner, USAG Wiesbaden DES. "Communication is working great, despite the language barrier. There are some comical situations. Some Polizei guys were having a discussion in German. Then one laughed, put his hand on my shoulder and helped me out."
The exercise started out with training on tactical movements. "Participants were taught on how to respond in high-risk operations such as hostage situations, active shooter incidents or chemical threats," said Niebergall. "They trained to work with shields, and to shoot with gas masks on, which is quite different."
Participants formed multi-national teams and trained in a bilingual setting throughout the exercise, which mirrored potential real-life situations as any emergency response here is conducted in close cooperation with host nation personnel.
For day three of the exercise the groups were put in more complex situations, simulated around a barracks building at McCully.
"My main take-away is that I will be able to go back to my unit and train other soldiers," said Joyner.