FORT SILL, Okla. (Feb. 8, 2024) -- The Cache Creek Community Chapel at Fort Sill became a hub of spiritual leadership and military camaraderie on Feb. 8, 2024, hosting the Joint Allied (NATO) Interoperability Training. This event convened chaplains from U.S. Army and Air Force bases, including Sheppard, Altus, and Tinker, along with international partners, fostering discussions on the evolving role of spiritual leadership within the armed forces.
Chaplain Col. Robert Glazener used personal anecdotes to emphasize the critical role of understanding and collaboration among NATO allies. He recounted his experiences with Father Augustine from Poland, who served as his chaplain during deployments in Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003. "In each location, Father Augustine was there, providing spiritual support, showcasing the strong relationships formed among allies. We work together as allies; there's a difference between partners and allies," Glazener explained. This highlights the essential nature of these relationships in military chaplaincy and the broader context of international cooperation.
Chaplain Col. Rolf Holmquist of the 82nd TRW Chaplain Corps from Sheppard Air Force Base emphasized the diverse responsibilities of chaplains and the need for interoperability. "We are on the front edge of training and building up our airmen with what we do," Holmquist said, acknowledging the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the joint training environment.
The event served as an educational platform and a testament to the shared values and commitments of military chaplains worldwide. It addressed crucial issues such as the importance of confidentiality, the demand for more chaplains, and the universal challenges encountered in service, highlighting the critical role of chaplaincy in the armed forces.
Reflecting on the training's outcomes, Glazener said, "The number one thing we need to do is take care of our number one resource — our Service members. This includes our allies." He highlighted the collective effort required to support the spiritual and emotional well-being of military personnel across the globe.
As participants departed from Fort Sill, the bonds formed and lessons learned during the Joint Allied (NATO) Interoperability Training promised to enhance the capability of military spiritual leaders to support their Service members in an ever-evolving global landscape. Glazener's reflection on the training encapsulated its impact. "Deployments, whether in combat or humanitarian missions, take the problems from home with them. Our job is to ensure that families and our Service members, including our allies, are cared for." This event marked a significant step toward achieving that goal, strengthening the fabric of military chaplaincy across nations.