June 11, 2016 –
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, stationed in Marysville, Washington, participated in a 10-kilometer run through the Polish town Sulejowek during Anakonda 2016, June 11.
Anakonda 16 is a Polish-led national event that seeks to train, exercise and integrate Polish national command and force structures into an Allied, joint, multinational environment.
The event officially began with a celebration of a local hero, Jozef Pilsudski (1867-1935), regarded to be one of the founding fathers of the modern Polish nation.
As part of the celebration, Soldiers and local citizens marched down a road led by a Polish Army band to a statue of the hero, where local dignitaries laid flowers and welcomed distinguished guests, including the participants from the U.S. Army.
Fourteen Soldiers from the sustainment command accepted an invitation to run in the event by retired Polish Colonel Krzysztof Zielinska.
Zielinska showed the U.S. service members around, explained Pilsudki’s role in Polish history and talked about his late wife, Halina, a co-founder of the run and past principal of the local high school where the race began and ended. Three kilometers of the race were dedicated to her memory.
Being a retired Polish officer, he was excited that Polish and U.S. Soldiers could compete side by side in the 10K event and come together in honor of his wife.
A community run seems like an unlikely location to train Reserve troops on joint operations, but it serves as a median to build social bridges between countries.
“I think it is an awesome way to experience the culture,” explained Sgt. Jennifer Hoeppner, a human resource specialist with the 364th ESC. “It puts a face to what you are supporting.”
Celebrating cultural events with a local populace is a strategy that can be used to reduce counter-insurgency while supporting a nation’s military forces.
“They were really excited to see a bunch of U.S. Army Soldiers participating in the 10K run,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sam Yang, also a 364th human resource specialist. “Everybody was cheering for us and taking pictures with us.”
Overall, the participation in the race was a rewarding experience for the 364th team involved. They were able to interact with civilians along the race, practice Polish and learn more about the history of the people they were assisting in support of Anakonda 16. The event enhanced the ability of Army Reserve Soldiers to effectively train and work alongside our Allies.
Story by Capt. A. Sean Taylor, 649th RSG