German 1st foreign instructor at US Europe NCO academy
By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 5, 2015
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — When Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal was appointed U.S. Army Europe’s chief of staff last year, it signaled commitment to strengthening operational partnerships with key allies, Germany in particular.
As a further sign of that commitment, a German is currently training Americans at the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy in Grafenwöhr.
German 1st Sgt. Andreas Gross has become the first foreign instructor at the academy, which is responsible for training almost 2,000 NCOs every year.
An airborne soldier who has worked with several other national armies, Gross is currently a platoon sergeant at the German NCO academy in Delitzsch, Germany.
While attached to the American school in Grafenwöhr, Gross is partly responsible for the direct mentorship of American NCOs, something that has never happened at this academy prior to his arrival.
“I have experience in the past with some different armies,” Gross said, including French and Belgian.
“It was an honor for me to be with the French troops, it was an honor to be with the Belgium troops, so it is an honor to be here,” he said in an interview.
According to the school’s deputy commandant, the academy trains more than 100 foreign NCOs every year, but they have never had a foreign NCO directly serving as an instructor until now.
“These students, most of them, have never worked or partnered with international before. Everything that we do now is international,” said 1st Sgt. Joseph Rothgeb. “When we deploy, we have international partners to our right helping us go toward the greater cause of what we’re deploying for.”
Gross said part of his job while at the academy is to shore up those gaps in knowledge of those troops who have yet to work with other nationalities.
“I give a German overview of all the things; I give a French overview of all the things; I give a Belgium overview about the military things,” he said. “It’s important that the guys get a 360 overview as a future leader about what’s up in another nation.”
For now, Gross’ tenure at the academy will be a short one. After his company graduates on Thursday, he’ll go back to Delitzsch to resume teaching German NCOs. Both he and Rothgeb say they hope this program will continue and maybe expand in the future to include American soldiers teaching at the German academy.