ZAGAN, Poland –
The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program has been supporting the overall quality of life for single and unaccompanied Soldiers assigned to duty stations around the world since 1989.
Now, for the first time ever, the program has been established for deployed and rotational troops in Poland thanks to a small team of U.S. Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers.
“One of our major objectives in Poland is to integrate U.S. forces with local communities, and their leaders, to identify and/or mitigate friction points,” said Army Reserve Cpt. Daniel Allen, team chief for Civil Affairs Team 5737, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th Mission Support Command. “The concept of BOSS has tremendous potential as it will encourage Soldiers to get out into the Polish communities, in a post COVID19 environment.”
The three Soldiers of CAT 5737 have been in Zagan, Poland for rotational exercise, Atlantic Resolve, since January. When not working their civilian jobs, they are assigned to the 457th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Grafenwoehr, Germany, under the 361st CAB, 7th MSC - the only Army Reserve command stationed in Europe.
In their everyday mission, civil affairs Soldiers focus on building relationships and enhancing interoperability with their host nation counterparts.
The idea of starting BOSS in Poland was a natural transition for Army Reserve Sgt. Joseph Nuttall, who not only serves as a noncommissioned officer for CAT 5737, but he also manages BOSS Vicenza for United States Army Garrison Italy in his civilian job.
“The BOSS program is important to me because it incentivizes soldiers to be part of the military community,” said Nuttall. “Here (in Poland), this program is going to provide so much more than recreational activities, but it will provide an opportunity to build relationships with the local populace and a stronger alliance with our host nation.”
Designed to provide a voice for single and unaccompanied Soldiers, the BOSS program has three key components: well-being, community service, and recreation/leisure activities.
Until now, BOSS has always been established at locations where Soldiers are permanently stationed, whether stateside or overseas.
Since there are no troops actually stationed in Poland, Nuttall and his team worked with Installation Management Command Europe Directorate, the 50th Regional Support Group, and Area Support Group Poland to create this first BOSS program of its kind, developed and implemented in a forward deployed, rotational unit environment.
"When Soldiers are given the opportunity to actively take ownership of their deployment, the better that deployment is," said Army Col. Ricardo Roig, commander of the 50th Regional Support Group. "(BOSS) is a great program, and I'm looking forward to seeing the positive impact it will have."
That positive impact was evident on April 15th, 2021, when BOSS Poland kicked off with its inaugural event: a 5K run competition held at the Zagan Forward Operating Station.
Nuttall, along with members of the 50th RSG Zagan FOS mayor cell and Poland’s 11th Armored Cavalry Division, facilitated the event. Maj. Gen. Piotr Trytek, commander of the 11th ACD, made a special appearance, awarding trophies to the top three runners.
“The 5K went very well and was a great collaborative effort,” said Nuttall. “Poland brought their best athletes and they took the top two places.”
With BOSS Poland officially underway and its inaugural event a rousing success, many more events have been planned for the near future, including English-speaking engagements with students in local high schools and continued training with each FOS mayor cell in Poland so they can run their own BOSS events separately.
“As my career is ending soon, this is a fantastic topping to a wonderful BOSSome ride in Europe,” said Angela Flowers, Director G9 program manager for IMCOM Europe.
“To see the formation of a new touch point for our single Soldiers is great,” she added. “I’m fortunate for Sgt. Nuttall, Cpt. Allen and the military leadership for their support.”
As CAT 5737’s rotation in Poland comes to an end, Allen says the alliance between the United States and Poland is strong and every local leader was happy to hear about the BOSS program.
It’s an alliance seemingly even stronger now because of Allen, his civil affairs team, and their accomplishments.
“Our team was able to meet with over 150 host nation officials during our rotation, which had a substantial and positive impact for the Atlantic Resolve mission,” said Allen. “Many of the local leaders were extremely motivated by the willingness of U.S forces to engage them; they agreed to build a collaborative network to make these relationships stronger and utilize the BOSS program.”