GARMISCH, Germany -- The U.S. Army NATO Brigade hosted its 21st annual Senior Army Leaders Meeting August 1-5 to give leaders from 81 locations in 22 countries the opportunity to meet face-to-face and share knowledge and ideas on NATO operations and how best to support the roughly 1,300 Soldiers serving within NATO organizations.
U.S. Army NATO Brigade provides support to Soldiers and their families to provide ready and resilient Soldiers to the NATO alliance, maintain joint and multinational partnerships and enhance the alliance.
The meeting kicked off August 1 with a four-hour session to orient senior Army officers newly assigned to a NATO billet and give them the opportunity to meet the commanders and command sergeants major from Allied Forces North Battalion and Allied Forces South Battalion.
The two battalions support the NATO mission by ensuring individual Soldier and Family Readiness through training, logistics, and human resources support.
After the orientation, the new SAOs gathered together with the other participants for a group photo, an icebreaker social event and welcoming remarks by Col. Troy V. Alexander, brigade commander.
“Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to attend this year’s Senior Army Leaders Meeting, said Alexander to the assembled senior leaders. “This is the one time each year, we can all get together to receive strategic guidance from our senior leadership, share lessons learned, and network so we can better serve our NATO organizations and enhance the U.S. presence in each and every NATO organization.
“I hope you all get something out of this year’s meeting and hope you enjoy the event for the remainder of the week.”
The SALM featured 19 unique sessions ranging from broad NATO topics, to NATO manning strategies, and NATO deployments and operations.
The highlight of the meeting for many participants was an opportunity to receive strategic guidance from the new Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Army General Christopher G. Cavoli.
Many of the Soldiers serving in NATO billets are far from U.S. military facilities and the support network those facilities bring.
The participants in the meeting were a combination of senior Army officers and senior national representatives assigned to NATO billets, senior Army leaders assigned to U.S. Army Europe units, and program managers who provide support to the 1,300 Soldiers across 22 European countries.
A senior national representative is the senior officer from a given country at a NATO organization, and in addition to their staff duties in their NATO position, they also provide direction and guidance to the service members from their nation and make sure they are properly supported, trained, and ready to accomplish their own duties.
“The first time I came to the SALM, it was a learning experience because I had just arrived in my job as an SNR,” said Army Col. Jerzy Zubr, U.S. senior national representative at NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Spain in Valencia. “This time I actually understood the issues better.
“My favorite sessions were from the senior leaders. I’m a foreign area officer so that is my bread and butter.
“I was really looking forward to hearing from the leadership like General Cavoli and the others.
“The networking and meeting the new brigade and battalion commander face-to-face was worth the trip from Spain.
“When you sit down face-to-face with them and share your concerns or where you need support, it is 10 times better than an email or a telephone call.
“I would say absolutely every session was time well spent for me,” said Zubr.