Building bridges

A TEAM from Mongolia was the surprise guest at a NATO competition held in Mönchengladbach.

In spite of much applause during their patrol and best results on the obstacle course and in the rubber dinghy, none of the eight British teams that entered succeeded in becoming the winner of the 34th International Military Competition (IMM) at Mönchengladbach on July 15.

However, the British teams performed impressively and accomplished two third places in the annual event.

Placement was not the focus of interest; rather it was the teamwork of soldiers from eight nations and the demanding physical challenge they endured during the day-long event.

Although the British teams did get to the victory rostrum; in the class International Active Soldiers the team from 74th Section Special Intelligence Branch (SIB) of the Royal Military Police (RMP) from Paderborn proudly claimed the third place after the teams from Mongolia and America.

In the group, Reserve Soldiers, the team of 609 West Riding Squadron RAF from North Yorkshire did likewise, only beaten by two very strong teams from France and Latvia.

The national anthem of Mongolia may well have been played for the first time on the premises of the Zentrale Militärkraftfahrstelle at Mönchengladbach-Rheindahlen.

Only hours before, four soldiers from Asia had registered as surprise guests for the 34th IMM.

The Mongolians, who were attending a language course at the Bundessprachenamt at Hürth, enthused spectators by their brilliant performance.

In spite of tropical temperatures they did not just jog the 14.5km of the patrol course like many other teams, they ran.

They also coped admirably with the 10 stations, from pistol shooting, to a quiz on aspects of security politics.

So, at the end of oldest regularly organised military competition in Europe nobody was really surprised about Mongolia having obtained the first place in the class Active Soldiers International, followed by American soldiers from Grafenwöhr and the RMP stationed at Paderborn.

The longest journey to the IMM was undertaken by the four-man team of the Latvian National Guard from Jekabpils, Jakobstadt.

The 1,800km journey by car via Lithuania and Poland was their first test of endurance and toughness, although no trophies or medals were awarded for it.

The IMM is considered to be a meeting for and of nations; so far 23 nations have participated, including New Zealand.

This year, eight nations showed up. Still, teams of the German Bundeswehr reserved the overall victories for themselves: reserve soldiers from Marbach, Hessia, took home the winner’s plate that bears the engraved signature of the German Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen.

Runners-up were active soldiers of the 2nd Company Paratroop Regiment 31 from Seedorf and of the 2nd Battalion of the Air Force Regiment from Schortens, both in Lower Saxony.

Markus Stops, 37, First Lieutenant Reserves in charge of the IMM, and in his civilian life the production manager at a company for electrical supply systems, described the aim of the competition.

He said: “The IMM is meant to build bridges between nations. Therefore, we were very happy when we learnt that a team from Drammen in Norway had enrolled for the first time.”

The 35th IMM, which will be organised by the Mönchengladbach Reserve soldiers and the Landeskommando Nordrhein-Westfalen of the Bundeswehr, is scheduled to take place on June 30, 2018.

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