JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Leaders in all branches of service took time to meet with one another Nov. 7 at the Joint Base Balad, Iraq, professional mixer in an effort for E-8s and above to interact in a social setting.
Team building exercises involving all service members, card games and video game stations were set up in Mirage, dining facility two, for the evening.
Air Force Capt. Markyves J. Valentin, quality assurance representative with the Defense Contract Management Agency, said the idea came about because Army and Air Force do not normally get to interact with one another.
"This is a chance for them to relax, mingle and do some networking," said Valentin, a Los Angeles native. "Everyone looks like they are having fun here and that is the main purpose."
Valentin said the mixer was an opportunity for service members to talk about permanent change of station moves and share information about their previous duty stations with service members who are headed to those locations.
The evening began with a team building exercise in which service members performed a line dance for their respective units while generals scored their efforts.
The 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) narrowly prevailed in the contest, only after a "dance off."
Col. Knowles Y. Atchison, deputy commander with the 13th ESC and a participant in the line dance, said this was a great opportunity to bring the base together so everybody could know who they are passing when they walk down the street.
"Everyone needs balance in their life and everyone needs to laugh," said Atchison. "What greater person to laugh at than yourself first'"
Atchison said the mixer was a great morale booster for all service members deployed here.
"Most people are working 16 to 18 hour days here," he said. "It's good to balance everything out with a few laughs now and then. This is a healthy environment and actually improves combat readiness, although we may look a little ridiculous as we're clowning around."
Pam Avery, a program analyst with the 49th Transportation Battalion and a New York native, said this mixer was planned in just two weeks.
Avery, who was one of the coordinators, said the event really took off.
"It exploded into something much bigger than we ever expected," she said. "We are also planning something for the holidays."
Avery urged people to respond to the invite the next time around.
"Some people did not respond to the e-mail and we have more people than we expected, so next time when people get the invite, please respond so we can plan accordingly," she said.
Valentin said the goal is to have a mixer every month and soon have events like these for enlisted members below the rank of E-8 as well.
Capt. Kristin S. Speers, liaison officer with the 593rd Sustainment Brigade out of Fort Lewis, Wash., said it was great to see so many people come out and participate in this event.
Speers, a coordinator of the event and Scottsboro, Ala., native, said this was truly a joint effort that had everybody working well together.
"We had tremendous support for the amount of stuff we had to do to plan and the amount of time we had to do it in," she said. "Everybody came together to make this event very successful and we would like to thank everybody for all their support."