West Point classmates personify multinational partnerships
Slovenian Army 1st Lt. Klemen Mijatov (left) and U.S. Army Capt. David Kopecky (right), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, were classmates at the West Point Military Academy, Class of 2002. They reunited during training at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command's Hohenfels Training Area in September.

HOHENFELS, Germany - One might think it's harder to make lasting relationships, because of all the joint and multinational operations around the world. But, two officers say that's not the case - the world is a much smaller place.

For them, it all started at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, NY in 2002. Capt. David M. Kopecky, an engineer now with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 1st Lt. Klemen Mijatov, an infantry officer serving in the Slovenian Army found themselves together again in a large counterinsurgency exercise held last week at the JMTC's Hohenfels Training Area, among dozens of Pashtun speakers and more than 6,000 U.S. troops and civilians
participating.

"I never thought something like this would happen. The fact that my deployments have only been to Iraq and Afghanistan, I never thought I would run into a foreign exchange cadet from another country," said Kopecky. "I definitely remember him and he remembers me. There was a bond created."

Because of proximity to countries like Slovenia, it's very common to have multinational troops training with the U.S. forces during exercises.

"It appears that whenever we deploy it helps to train together, work side-by-side," said Kopecky. "It helps to train as we fight." Kopecky has deployed once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

Mijatov trained at the JMRC in Jan. and Feb. earlier this year, during the Kosovo Force training. He has returned this time to train for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He has deployed three-times in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. He has also trained in Hungary, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to prepare for
those deployments.

"This place [Hohenfels Training Area] is different. It is not easy to replicate what happens down range on your own resources," said Mijatov. "The OCs and cadre running the operation have applicable and current experience. It's a good opportunity to prepare for the joint and multinational environment before you get pushed into it."

Although their careers have taken a series of different turns, Kopecky said there are more similarities than differences.

"No matter what level you work at it's about Soldier training, resourcing and getting him what he needs to do his job on the ground," he said. "We junior officers will face the same challenges despite being in different militaries, with different cultures and different missions. That's what
keeps us close."

So it seems, when a Soldier is serving in the joint and multinational environment, the world is a much smaller place. "It seems a military is a military, is a military," said Kopecky.

"There are more similarities than differences."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16