News: International partnerships strengthened at Navy receptions
BALTIMORE – Receptions for American and coalition military personnel and dignitaries were held June 14 aboard the Danish navy ship HDMS Esbern Snare (L-17) and German navy ship FGS Hessen (F-221) during Navy Week Baltimore 2012.
To some, the events may seem like a simple exchange of pleasantries between foreign militaries over food, though the importance of such events goes far deeper.
“Our navies often go out to sea and fight alongside each other, but events and receptions like this one really strengthen that relationship and give a greater understanding of not only our navies, but of our cultures as well,” said Danish navy Orlogskaptajn Jacob Lauridsen, weapons and electronics officer aboard Esbern Snare. “And it is that kind of exchange that makes us greater allies overall.”
Sailors and Marines from the United States, Denmark, Germany and other coalition militaries met for an exchange of good will and insight into each other’s respective forces and capabilities. While many of the officers at reception are used to high-pressure scenarios in tactical environments, many at the event agreed that the comfortable setting of such receptions does more for international bridge building than meets the eye.
Some attending the events found the historical significance of the receptions.
“As we meet here in Baltimore to participate in the War of 1812 celebration, meeting with these sailors from so many different nations is almost a replaying of history,” said German navy Oberleutnant zur See Jan Bottcher, combat system doctrine officer aboard the Hessen. Bottcher explained that Americans have been fighting alongside the armies of friendly nations since the American Revolution, and receptions such as those aboard the Sebern Snare and Hessen honor that cooperation.
Others attending the receptions recognized the importance of their effect on future operations.
“I’ve been involved in diplomacy via the Navy for many years, and when you carry our flag, you carry the might, mission and diplomatic presence it represents as well,” said U.S. Navy Adm. John Harvey, Jr., Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
“Events like these receptions are very important in maintaining that diplomacy between nations, because you have to build trust, not demand it.”
Over the course of the evening, personnel from militaries around the world met and built that trust between nations under the backdrop of Baltimore, entertained by the crews of the host ships. Dignitaries welcomed guests and spoke of the importance continued camaraderie between the friendly nations, but few summed up the spirit of the events as succinctly as Peter Ammon, German ambassador to the United States, did.
“In a globalized world,” said Ammon, “it is important to know who your friends are.”
Navy Week Baltimore is one of the signature events around the country commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner. The Navy week is part of Baltimore's Star Spangled Sailabration and commemorates the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. The United States Navy and its partners will commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 from 2012 to 2015, honoring all who fought and continue to defend safe passage on the sea.