Music brings 4ID, NATO members together

By Sgt. Alex Soliday, 112th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJuly 28, 2023

Music brings 4ID, NATO members together
BEMOWO PISKIE, Poland — U.S. Army Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, supporting the 4th Infantry Division, join NATO interpreters and Croatian soldiers with the 11th Croatian Contingent, supporting NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland, before a concert begins in Pisz, Poland. The musical group, “The Diplomats,” is comprised of members of NATO forces, showing unity among the alliance, including members of Task Force Ivy, led by the 4th Infantry Division headquarters. The 4th Inf. Div.'s mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Alex Soliday) VIEW ORIGINAL

BEMOWO PISKIE, Poland - NATO’s goal of peace, unity, and security in Europe and North America unites its 31 member countries. At Bemowo Piskie Training Area, American, British, Croatian, and Polish military service members come together to build military interoperability through tough, realistic tactical training. But a few NATO members and Task Force Ivy Soldiers, serving under the command of the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division, come together not just to train, but to build interoperability and partnership through music.

Enter the “Diplomats,” a band comprised of U.S. Army Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, supporting 4th Infantry Division; NATO interpreters; and Croatian army soldiers with the 11th Croatian Contingent, all supporting NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland.

The multinational band has humble beginnings with service members seeking out fellow music lovers and gathering for private rehearsals during off-duty time. Today, the band has grown, and over the past five months has performed concerts for the Polish public and military members alike, including an International Women’s Day celebration, American Independence Day, performances at cultural centers in Poland, and concerts for the troops at BPTA as part of the base’s morale, welfare, and recreation program.

The strong personal relationships and dedication to teamwork amongst “The Diplomats” mirror their shared NATO mission and reflect how each nation’s service members at BPTA work together, regardless of their backgrounds, to communicate effectively and support NATO’s eFP Battle Group Poland.

The leader of “the Diplomats,” Croatian army Maj. Ivan Kamber, contingent commander of the Croatian eFP Battle Group Poland, started playing guitar in college before his 17-year career in the Croatian military. He was intrigued by the idea of creating a band when arriving at BPTA.

Kamber’s first roommate when he arrived was a chaplain who also shared an affinity for music.

“I asked about what kind of hobbies he had, and he told me he played the drums,” he said.

This got the ball rolling for Kamber. As the chaplain prepared to redeploy to another location, Kamber looked to expand the offer to soldiers from other nations and civilians working at BPTA.

“I wanted to bring all the NATO nations together,” Kamber said.

Before long the band had gained a drummer, U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Brown; a keyboardist, U.S. Army Sgt. Lianne Hirano, both with the Hawaii Army National Guard, supporting the 4th Infantry Division; and a singer, British U.K. Royal Lancers Pvt. Emily Heaviside.

As deployment rotations in Poland came to an end for the original members of “The Diplomats,” the search for interested musicians to carry on the legacy began. Three Polish interpreters attached to BPTA and U.S. Army Spc. Jud Oviatt, a fire support specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, supporting the 4 Infantry Division, joined the band in late April as a drummer.

“Having that bond, having that connection through music and being with other soldiers from other countries while playing together has sparked something in me,” Oviatt said, describing how playing in the band has impacted him. “It’s sparked something in me, and I want to go back home and get on the drums again, every day.”

While the band spends their off-duty time creating music, building goodwill, and enhancing international relationships within NATO, during the duty day they are hard at work in their respective military jobs doing the same; working to build interoperability and maintain peace and security in Europe.

Continuing to perform in multiple events and locations, the skills used by the band have helped each member not just at a personal level, but at a strategic level within the military and NATO. U.S. Army Capt. Mark McDonald, the eFP Battle Group Poland Chaplain of BPTA, noticed the strategic importance of the band right away.

“Just like the military, we have to be ready whenever,” McDonald said. “With the band, it’s just like that, being called to perform in a small amount of time. Preparation is another. For the band, making sure the sound system is fine-tuned would be in comparison to the military when firing a weapon from a distance.”

While incorporating these skills, The “Diplomats” never forgot their original objective.

“The band’s mission is to go around to increase morale and to show the world that “stronger together” really means stronger together,” McDonald said. “It’s good to see how people, both military and civilian, can come together for a common goal.”

Kamber, who is preparing to rotate out of BPTA in the coming week, spoke about the power of music and its role in building friendships throughout NATO.

“I would like to see the band continue after I leave,” Kamber said. “This band shows how different nations, cultures, and languages can join together and build something amazing. Whatever we can do as individual nations, we can do it combined. This reflects the inoperability the military is capable of.”