NAPLES, Italy -- Allied Forces South Battalion’s Headquarters Company kicked off its annual Regulator Week here April 18 with an Army Combat Fitness Test.
Dozens of U.S. Soldiers assigned to NATO units in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain participated in the week-long event to get up to date on Army training, medical and administrative requirements.
Lt. Col. Ebrima M’Bai, Allied Forces South Battalion commander, welcomed the participants on the first day of training.
“Thank you for coming,” he said. “Thank you for playing an active role in helping our ratings improve.”
“I understand that this is always a heavy lift, not just for us here, but for you guys to take time out of your busy schedules to come here,” said M’Bai. “While you are here, please take advantage of the services we provide and take the opportunity to meet face to face with the staff sections that are here.”
“If there is anything you need to take care of, please let us know,” he said. “We will do everything we can to help. That way you can leave here satisfied that everything has been taken care of.”
Regulator Week, known as green week or ready week in some Army units, is a time set aside for Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company AFSouth with duty at various NATO units across Southern Europe to travel to Naples and focus on their U.S. Army requirements so that when they are at their home stations they can focus on ensuring the success of their NATO chain of command, according to Capt. Hinh Duong, HHC AFSouth commander.
“Regulator Week is a chance for the NATO remote outstations to do medical, administrative, range qualification and things that we don't have the opportunity to do at our duty station,” said Staff Sgt. Jourdain Smithson, Multinational Division - Southeast G2 in Romania.
“Regulator Week is super valuable because there are administrative challenges, there are legal challenges to some of these things we need to accomplish that we simply can't do at our home station,” said Smithson. “So, to have this chance to dedicate a week is fantastic.”
Smithson explained that the base where he works in Romania has great services available, but they are not necessarily the services he needs to stay up to date on all his Army requirements.
For Maj. Daniel Pearson, MND-SE G6, Regulator Week is an opportunity to step out of the NATO environment and surround himself with U.S. Soldiers, at least for a time.
“This training is important I think for two reasons. One is to keep our overall training readiness up to date and doing the basic things correctly,” said Pearson. “As we were taught in basic training, it’s the basics that will get you through just about anything.
“So that’s weapons qualification. That’s your Soldier readiness which includes your mental and physical abilities. Taking a PT test to make sure we’re physically fit, making sure we can fire our weapons proficiently, and then the medical to make sure that our bodies are healthy inside and out and that our minds are prepared for the rigors of the Army.
“I think it’s particularly important here because we don’t have a unit we are normally with and around U.S. Soldiers all the time,” said Pearson. “We’re scattered apart with only one or two U.S. Soldiers around us every day, so we don’t get that normal rhythm of life associated with being a Soldier in the U.S. Army.
“This week is very important to us to come together as U.S. Army Soldiers, get back to the basics, and remember who we are before we go back to our various specialties within NATO.”
Master Sgt. Nia DeMarco works in the J2 office at NATO Force Integration Unit – Romania. NATO’s eight NFIUs are small units deployed along the alliance’s eastern flank to help facilitate the rapid deployment of Allied forces to the Eastern part of the Alliance, support collective defense planning and assist in coordinating training and exercises.
NFIUs have a very limited number of personnel compared to most NATO organizations, which makes Regulator Week even more valuable to DeMarco, she said.
“Regulator Week is a chance for us to get green on all of our readiness training and assist the battalion in making sure all of us are deployable and ready to go,” said DeMarco. “We’ve had opportunities to see medical providers who speak English which is not something that normally happens for us in Romania and that’s been very helpful for us getting to speak to an actual U.S. health care provider.”
“There’s a lot of good stuff that comes out of this week of training. It was great to get the opportunity to meet with some of the people, especially in operations for HHC,” she said. “They help us with so many things from the outstations, and it’s really nice to put a face with all the emails and phone calls and to be able to thank them in person for the efforts in how they support us.”
Staff Sgt. Raymond Allaire, HHC Allied Forces South Battalion in Italy, was one of the driving forces behind setting up and running Regulator Week this year.
“Events like this are useful for the battalion because it brings Soldiers from our outlying stations together so we can collaborate on solutions using resources they don’t have access to in their units,” said Allaire. “It’s a lot of work, but in the long run, makes our lives easier by bringing everyone together in one place.”
Another advantage to Regulator Week is that the Soldiers have a few free hours each evening to enjoy Neapolitan culture.
“It’s also a great opportunity for us to see the culture of Italy, because we can go out on the town, we can go eat and see the sights during our free time,” said Smithson. “It’s a really great opportunity for work-life balance for those of us who come to Regulator Week.”