News: 353rd CACOM soldiers take part opening day ceremony
Story by Sgt. Gregory Williams
PEPELISHTE, Macedonia – Soldiers with the 353rd Civil Affairs Command took part in the opening ceremony held here on Tuesday for exercise Shared Resilience 13. The soldiers will be working as instructors and observe and control managers for more than 300 participants during the exercise.
Exercise Shared Resilience 13 is designed to bring together medical professionals from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and U.S. forces in order to enhance interagency coordination.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cantor, a co-director for exercise Shared Resilience, said he has taken part in several multinational ceremonies, but this one was special because of his Soldiers.
“It made me very proud to see my soldiers out there because I love our unit and it put a smile on my face,” Cantor said. “All the ceremonies I’ve done in the past have been similar, but this is my first time being the co director and giving a speech, which was humbling.”
Staff Sgt. Alberto Torres, a civil affairs non-commissioned officer with the 353rd, said he has been to Macedonia before during another medical exercise and he’s excited to have the opportunity to work once again with multi national forces.
“I have made many friends in the past and it’s good to see that people are still interested in the medical field,” Torres said. “It’s even better to see how confident other forces get when they see us because they know the training they’re getting is legitimate.”
Torres said that he felt proud to be a soldier when the announcer acknowledged the U.S. forces formation as each participating nation was called out.
After the ceremony, soldiers talked with their multinational counterparts and greeted each other with smiles and hand shakes. As the field emptied out, most of the participants showed that they’re willing to learn from one another in order to achieve the same goals.
“It’s important to remember that’s it’s not just about one person and one fight, but it’s about a unified action of approach and that’s what I hope all of these individuals learn during this exercise,” Cantor said. “I hope our unit will provide the Macedonians and other nations the skill sets needed to handle any disaster they may encounter.”