Perhaps none of the 4,000 Soldiers and Airmen participating in National Training Center rotation 19-08 stand out more than Cpl. Henry Dickinson. Dickinson is six feet, three inches tall but it’s not his height that stands out. It’s the purple hackle on top of his beret and the Union Jack patch on his left sleeve he proudly wears as a member of the British Army’s Royal Regiment of Scotland that makes him nearly impossible to miss in the Fort Irwin, California, desert.
Dickinson is the only foreign service member participating in the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s NTC rotation this month. For three weeks, he is training alongside members of the Montana Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 163rd Cavalry Regiment.
“We don’t get the opportunity to train in a place like this, especially with the heat,” Dickinson said. “This place is similar to places we are fighting in the 21st century.”
Dickinson is a British Reserve infantry Soldier training in the United States as part of the Department of Defense’s Military Reserve Exchange Program.
For the past 34 years the program has facilitated unique training exchanges between members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve with counterparts from the German Army, United Kingdom Territorial Army, Danish Home Guard and Estonian Army who travel to participate in a hosting unit’s annual training.
Montana Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Vogl will train with Dickinson’s unit in Wessex, England, in September as part of the exchange program.
“We exchange Soldiers with our NATO allies to maintain relationships with our partners and improve our individual readiness,” Vogl said.
Vogl said he is looking forward to seeing how the British Army operates and any differences between how the two armies maneuver.
Dickinson serves in the 7th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, a British Army Reserve battalion. The regiment is Scotland’s only line infantry regiment. He has been assigned to A Company, 1-163rd Cav Reg, one of two infantry companies in the combined arms battalion.
“The British and American armies tend to do things together,” Dickinson said. “If I can get an insight on how Americans do things, that will be very beneficial to working with them in the future.”
The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is training at the National Training Center May 24 – June 20 to prepare for its wartime missions. The rotation builds Soldier and unit proficiency to provide combatant commanders with a trained and ready force capable of fighting and winning our nation’s wars.