2LT Matthew Finlay, ‘16
Two Norwich University alumni, 2nd Lieutenant Emily Hart and 2nd Lieutenant Matthew Finlay, attended an international training for cadets in Pepiliste, Macedonia for two weeks in July. The program, which was sponsored by Macedonia’s Military Academy, provided training with a focus on peacekeeping operations and multi-national cooperation. The Norwich alumni participated in critiquing capacity, rather than participating in the training exercises. Representatives from the United Kingdom, Italy, Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Turkey also were present for the exercise.
The cadets received instruction from officers and NCO’s from the Macedonian Army. Training included CASEVAC, crowd control, CBRN, convoy operations, and media relations–to name a few. Each platoon, comprised of cadets from each nation, trained exclusively on one subject area in preparation for the culminating event. The culminating event consisted of a scenario in which all of the training subjects were implemented. The event was put on display for dignitaries from each nation that was represented in the exercise.
The cadets received more than military training. Trips to Macedonian historical sites and museums were provided, as well as tours of much of the country’s natural beauty. For example, one weekend the cadets were able to spend time at the picturesque Lake Ohrid. Perhaps the most valuable element of the exercise was the relationships that were built between the cadets from other countries. At the end of the exercise, military patches were exchanged, phone numbers were shared, and new friends parted ways.
The main takeaway point for the cadets should not have been the face value of the military training, but rather the complexities of multi-national cooperation while conducting military operations. Each nation had their own philosophies on the way certain aspects should have been executed, and cultural differences sometimes led to misunderstandings. Considering that warfare today is often fought by coalitions of allied nations, it was truly a valuable experience for the cadets to be able to have the experience of working through the differences and finding a way to accomplish the mission. No exercise is perfect, and improvements will be made to the training, but the difficulties that come with multi-national cooperation will remain. That element of difficulty results in a realistic training environment that is truly invaluable to the future military leaders of the world.
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