By USANATO Public AffairsMarch 18, 2016
SEMBACH, Germany - While NATO continues to establish and open new NATO Force Integration Units in member nations across Europe, Soldiers and civilians with United States Army NATO Brigade continue to work to build the support infrastructure and activities required to sustain U.S. Army personnel as they arrive to fill critical positions in the NFIUs.
Part of that means time spent on the ground in places like Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and other eastern European nations by members of the USANATO staff and leadership to establish relationships and make inroads with government agencies in advance of USANATO personnel's assignments.
The United States Army NATO Brigade's command team met with members of the U.S. Embassy-Slovakia's military staff and members of NATO Force Integration Unit-Slovakia during a visit to the NFIU headquarters and the Slovakian Ministry of Defense in Bratislava, Slovakia Mar. 16.
The visit focused on the establishment timeline for the new NFIU and requirements for the reception of USANATO Soldiers in the coming months. Considerable steps will have to be taken in the near future to ensure a smooth and legal transition of Allied troops to Slovakia for assignment to the NFIU.
While not yet at full staffing, the Slovakian NFIU commander and his staff have made meeting the associated challenges a priority. "With construction of our new facility scheduled to begin soon and work between government offices happening now, our goal is to ensure proper support is in place as people arrive," said Slovakian Army Col. Jozef Zekucia, the NFIU commander. Like the six already established NFIUs, Zekucia's organization will support future NATO missions with Slovakian troops and assist in freedom of movement for U.S. and NATO forces in the country.
USANATO's commander, Col. Karolyn Hooper and senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge Escobedo acknowledged the difficult work ahead for the NFIU and pledged to assist. "We know and Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the United States Army Europe's commander, knows just how important the NFIUs are," said Hooper, "we're here to support your priorities."