POZNAŃ, Poland — From a military perspective, partner nations working together often takes the form of multinational training exercises. Sometimes, however, the interoperability between nations can take a less tactical, more personal approach.
For the Women’s Cultural Exchange at Forward Operating Site Poznań, U.S. and Polish women working together involves learning about each other’s cultures and military lives. The Women’s Cultural Exchange was started by U.S. Army Maj. Aprill Bright, the 1st Infantry Division Forward chaplain, and Staff Sgt. Corrina Knight, the 1ID chaplain operations noncommissioned officer.
“Staff Sgt. Knight and I wanted to see what we could do from our MOS [military occupational specialty] to positively impact our mission here, and we're great at the human dimension,” Bright said. “We wanted to build a safe place for us to come alongside our allies to determine some of our differences, explore where we're very similar and also learn from each other some best practices.”
They also held a Women's Cultural Exchange event on Sept. 14. During that event, they discussed the differences between U.S. and Polish physical fitness tests. Following that conversation, some of the Polish Land Forces members who attended requested to try the Army Combat Fitness Test.
On Nov. 3, members of the Polish Land Force and Air Force tried some of the physical tests from the ACFT alongside women from 1ID Forward and V Corps Forward.
“So once the women understood what we do for the ACFT or what's required of us, they were like, ‘This is hard. Let me try it and see if I can do it,’” Bright said. “Then they realized, a lot of them, they would have passed the event. So they are walking away with confidence, wanting to be better.”
Polish Lance Corporal Beata Bak, who works in logistics with the Polish Air Force, attended the event and tried the ACFT.
“It was funny because we don't have something like that at our base,” Bak said. “It is really hard, but it’s fun. So we can exchange the PT in our base and [U.S. Army] PT, and we can do something like that in our base and show other women. I think it’s good for us to learn something new.”
After the ACFT training, the women had a group discussion led by Bright and Knight. They covered topics such as what basic training or boot camp was like, what some of their individual jobs are, the purpose of their units and funny, unique experiences they've had.
“That's what this cultural exchange is all about,” Bright said, “exchanging dialogue, stories, experiences and seeing how our stories intersect.”
Bak said she thinks it’s good to learn from different countries, how other armies work and how they can do things differently with that knowledge.
"Connecting regularly with our sisters in arms from the Polish Armed Forces at such a grass-roots level is such a great opportunity to spread goodwill amongst our two militaries and learn to understand and appreciate the commonalities and differences between us," said Lt. Col. Krista Bartolomucci, the deputy staff judge advocate with V Corps Forward.
The 1ID is deployed to Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve. Interoperability is a key component for the U.S. to be prepared to stand side-by-side with its NATO Allies and partners to maintain and increase lethality against adversaries. The Women's Cultural Exchange is opening new avenues for interoperability and plans to continue having events for U.S. and Polish women to learn about and experience each other’s culture.
Learn more about Atlantic Resolve: https://www.europeafrica.army.mil/AtlanticResolve/