By Cadet Alfred A. Rosiles, St Mary's UniversityJune 24, 2014
DOMALJEVAC, Bosnia (June 23, 2014) -- Last week, 21 Army ROTC cadets from across the U.S. traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina on a mission to learn more about the history and culture of the country, while participating in language training with the country's armed forces.
The ROTC Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency program mission was a short notice mission, with many tentative plans and possibilities in a country that has seen its share of strife and tragedy -- and this mission was to be no exception.
Just days after Cadet Command accepted the invitation from the host country and the U.S. embassy to send an immersion team, northern Bosnia experienced record rainfall, causing the worst flooding in more than a century. According to officials, numerous towns were completely flooded or cut off from outside help. More than 10,000 people have been displaced because of flooding and landslides. Many people lost their homes and have been living in shelters.
The cadets were quickly re-assigned to a humanitarian aid effort, after receiving approval to participate in Exercise Joint Effort -- a joint-force exercise involving military forces from Bosnia, the United Kingdom, Austria, Slovenia, Scotland, Turkey, and now, the U.S.
As soon as they arrived, the cadets traveled two hours to Eagle Base, in Tuzla, the headquarters for the exercise -- the same location U.S. forces were stationed during Operation Noble Eagle. On June 10, the Cadets and cadre, some of whom were from the Georgia National Guard, were tasked out to go on their first mission since arriving in Bosnia.
For the next two days they worked with their Bosnian counterparts to load and unload boxes containing donated supplies, such as food, water, clothing and other useful materials. Working beside Bosnian soldiers, the cadets had the opportunity to provide extra help in a time of crisis and to learn more about how other militaries work together in real life.
The cadets will continue helping move boxes of donated supplies, participate in debris removal in the city of Domaljevac -- a city devastated by the floods -- and help in a restoration project in two kindergarten schools damaged by the high waters and mud.
"I like that we interacted with both Bosnian military and Bosnian civilians, and the fact that we were working together to accomplish a mission that is going to affect those that were effect by the flooding," said Cadet Tiffany Turner, who attends the University of Hawaii.
At the end of the day all the cadets said they worked hard to accomplish a mission that would help those who are in need. They added that they felt they had also created a bond with the Bosnian people, as well as the military partners with whom they worked.
The cadets tried to live the Army Core Value of "selfless service," responding quickly to an emerging need with their full energy and determination to do the very best -- and all the while trying to be outstanding ambassadors of the U.S. Army to people in crisis.