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    Florida Guard and Polish army leadership become “stronger together”

    Florida Guard and Polish army leadership become “stronger together”

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski | U.S. Army Col. Ricardo Roig (left), 50th Regional Support Group (RSG) commander,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski 

    50th Regional Support Group

    Two colonels from different armies first met at Forward Operating Site (FOS) Bemowo Piskie Training Area (BPTA), Poland, on March 4, 2021, not knowing that their first key leader engagement would lead to an unexpected reunion.

    When U.S. Army Col. Ricardo Roig, commander of the Florida Guard’s 50th Regional Support Group (RSG), introduced himself to Polish army Col. Wojciech Grzybowski, 24th Garrison Support Unit commander, they didn’t discuss business. Still, this first meeting was important to their countries’ mutual interests.

    Once Soldiers become senior leaders, the role of diplomat becomes a big part of their jobs, particularly when working with international allies and partners in a deployed environment. While chatting over coffee might seem like a trivial interaction, it actually serves an important function to senior leaders in establishing a rapport with each other.

    “During this deployment, I’ve been reminded that building rapport comes before business, especially in Polish culture,” said Army Capt. Steven Felter, an assistant S-3 officer assigned to the 50th RSG as FOS mayor for BPTA. “It’s crucial to creating a shared mission and vision.”

    Understanding the culture of an operating environment is an important aspect of any military operation. Making time for coffee or lunch, if only for initial introductions, helps military leaders set their units up for success by establishing personal relationships with each other.

    Over coffee, the two colonels talked about their personal experiences serving in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11, mentoring Soldiers under their command, and raising their kids. They learned that they shared some important things in common.

    Roig told Grzybowski that he had two grown sons back home serving in the Florida Army Guard. Having just recently begun his deployment to Poland, it was unlikely that Roig would see them any time soon. Gryzbowski told Roig that he had a son studying at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. COVID restrictions on international travel made it unlikely that Grzybowski would be able to visit his son later that spring as they had originally planned.

    The 50th RSG, based in Homestead, Florida, is deployed to Poland to support Atlantic Resolve by providing management and base operations support at FOSes throughout the country. This support mission is critical to sustaining a combat-credible presence of rotating forces to deter aggression and ensure security in Europe.

    “We have a big job in Poland, and we need allies and good relations with them to maintain our mission readiness and to challenge any threat together,” Roig said.

    When separate organizations work together towards any shared goal, friction can develop from differences in procedures, priorities and perceptions that can hurt progress towards that goal. In fact, such friction can easily occur between departments within the same company. If commanders can build personal foundations with their counterparts, then allied forces from multiple NATO countries – possessing completely different cultures and languages – stand a much better chance of working together with smooth interoperability.

    “Key leader engagements help support working relationships between countries, people and allied military,” Felter said. “This exemplifies the NATO philosophy of ‘stronger together.’”

    Later that day at lunch, Roig and Grzybowski talked about hunting, fishing, sports, their shared interest in history, and riding Harley Davidson motorcycles. By the end of the day, both commanders had exchanged gifts and Roig thanked Grzybowski for his hospitality as they wore each other’s unit patches.

    Shortly after Roig left BPTA, he reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and explained Grzybowski’s situation. Over the next several weeks, officials from the U.S. State Department helped Grzybowski navigate the rules and regulations of international travel in the COVID era.

    “As a deployed Soldier and a father with my own sons so far away, I understood this visit was a big deal,” Roig said. “Sometimes small gestures can make a big difference, especially when it comes to family.”

    On May 22, Grzybowski was in Michie Stadium as he watched his son join the “Long Gray Line” as a graduate in West Point’s Class of 2021.




    Date Taken: 05.22.2021
    Date Posted: 06.09.2021 14:02
    Story ID: 398467
    Location: BEMOWO PISKIE, PL

    Web Views: 177
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