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NEWS | Dec. 2, 2020

US and EU military leaders engage in virtual panel to further transatlantic cooperation

By Capt. Michael Ariola 85th Support Command

“I wish to stress that I am particularly impressed by those who decide to serve in the military in addition to their professional occupation in the civilian world”, said Stavros Lambrinidis, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States. “Those composing the military reserve forces enhance military readiness. They contribute their rich and diverse skills to the missions of armed forces, and they demonstrate a deep personal commitment to the defense of their nation and their allies.”

Stavros, provided opening remarks for the first-ever “We Stood Together, We Stand Together” virtual panel co-hosted by the European Union Delegation to the United States and the Reserve Organization of America. The panel, comprised of distinguished armed forces officials from both the United States and European Union countries, discussed contributions of reserve components to the alliance, and the past, present and future of transatlantic military relations.

The 90-minute virtual event was moderated by retired U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, Executive Director, ROA, and retired U.S. Chief Master Sgt. Ericka E. Kelly, former Command Chief Master Sergeant of Air Force Reserve Command.

Panelists included Brig. Gen. Robert Kilgore, Chief of Staff, New York Air National Guard; Brig. Gen. Ernest Litynski, Commanding General, 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command; German Brig. Gen. Jared Sembritzki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Europe, and Col. Mojca Pešec, Defense, Military, Naval and Air Attaché, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia.

“The purpose of this event was to further solidify the incredible transatlantic relationship we maintain” said Litynski. “This event continued to grow the trust, connectedness, and mutual understanding between the United States and the EU leadership to further enhance military cooperation that helps support other initiatives between these two strong partners”.

The importance of international organizations in enhancing transatlantic security was a main topic of discussion.

“I don’t think there is any better example of security cooperation than [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and the alliance that is in existence today with our 30 nations”, said Kilgore. “The reality is that relationships are everything in our business and when we train together, we build those relationships. They allow us an opportunity to capitalize on each other’s strengths and minimize each other’s weaknesses.”

Litynski, who recently served in Poland as commander of the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division (Forward) for Atlantic Resolve reflected on key takeaways from the panel discussion.

“Some of the great concepts that the event produced include continued transatlantic training, professional education, and information sharing opportunities that transcend conventional relationships,” said Litynski. “Simply put, continued open, honest, and candid communication – whether virtually or face-to-face, produce the trust and personal bonds that lead to greater military interoperability, unity of effort, and common goals that can only grow military cooperation.”

“This event and the mutual experiences demonstrate that the thousands of miles of blue Atlantic Ocean separating our military partners are not a constraint or obstacle. Conversely, the event proves that we can stay connected and meet our transatlantic goals through simple connectedness via telephonic, teleconferencing, or email mediums. A simple “hello” to a transatlantic military ally can surely bridge distance and create unresolved trust and cooperation,” added Litynski.

Sembritzki shared a brief look into his upbringing and emphasized the importance of allied partnerships and NATO.

“I was born and grew up in the divided city of Berlin 50 years ago,” said Sembritzki. So, for me, that is a very personal thing and lucky I was on the non-communist part of Berlin and I was within the American sector. For me, there is a kind of loop because 50 years later, I am the chief of staff of a purely American command which serves for the freedom of Europe. So I think that underlines for me, personally, why we have NATO, what is the effort of NATO and why everybody should be happy that there are Soldiers all over, and civilians, as well, serving for a better world for all.”

Litynski shared that he believed the goal of strengthening and pursuing stronger mutual military understanding was a result from the engagement.

“Through the dialogue and questions and answers, the event further allowed the transatlantic relationship to receive multiple points of view while reducing any inherent biases and heuristics that may exist,” said Litynski. “I believe that all participants and attendees have developed a further appreciation of the military goals, constraints, and opportunities that exist in our partnership.”

The “We Stood Together, We Stand Together” virtual panel can be viewed at the link below.