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Reception celebrates diversity, welcomes different nations

American and international Soldiers gather for food and fellowship during a foreign liaison reception at The Landing’s ballroom May 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

American and international Soldiers gather for food and fellowship during a foreign liaison reception at The Landing’s ballroom May 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: May 31, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 31, 2016) -- Fort Rucker’s leadership recognizes diversity as one of the Army’s biggest strengths, and that diversity is strengthened even further by America’s international allies.

The International Military Student Office held a foreign liaison reception at The Landing’s ballroom May 19 to make welcome the 186 service members from 26 different nations who currently serve on Fort Rucker, according to Lt. Col. Romeo R. Macalintal Jr., 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment commander.

“We come together almost every other month to meet and greet the latest Aviation war fighters from throughout the world,” he said during the ceremony. “Over my past two years here, I have seen service members absolutely embrace the opportunities to learn about the unique American culture, as well as exchange knowledge about their culture.”

Macalintal said that exchange in culture is a huge boon for the force that allows each Soldier the ability to reap the benefits of building partnerships, relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime.

“The personal connections that people make here will often span decades and, in this ever-changing operational environment, these relationships do matter,” said the 1-13th commander.  “Trust, confidence and communication sometimes starts at the individual level and, when there are familiar faces amongst a sea of diverse uniforms on unfamiliar ground, establishing that trust becomes a little bit easier.”

Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, was also on hand to welcome the international soldiers and echo Macalintal’s statements.

“You get to see different cultures and experience different people, and I think that’s very important,” said the commanding general. “Right now there are 186 international students here building relationships that will be very important in the future.

“I don’t know if it’s a surprise to anyone, but the world is a crazy place,” he continued. “The way to get through the craziness will depend greatly on personal relationships that leaders and people have, and I encourage you to take advantage of that.”

W01 Jason Farley, B Company, 1st Bn., 145th Avn. Regt., said he came out in order to support the friendships and relationships he’s made by getting to know Soldiers and family members from the international community.

Building those relationships has been something that Farley said he will carry with him for the rest of his life, and those relationships have taught him life lessons he would never have learned otherwise.

“I got the chance to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds and a lot of times people can be ignorant to other cultures unless you experience them firsthand, which is difficult to do,” he said. “But through IMSO’s sponsorship program, we’re able to experience cultures from all over the world, as well as share our cultures with others.

“It’s an opportunity for us to build these relationships, and squash some stereotypes and misconceptions,” continued Farley. “It’s the same type of courtesy I would expect from any other host country, and when you put in that kindness and time to get to know someone, they will show you that in return, and that’s how you learn to work together as a force.”

Capt. Matthew Cox, D Co., 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt., said the IMSO’s sponsorship program is vital to mission success, not just for IMSO, but for the force as a whole.

“Sponsorship begins at the lowest level,” he said. “When you think about your parents, your siblings and your friends, everyone has who has touched your life in one form or another has sponsored you along the way.

“Each and every one of us who touch each other’s lives in one way or another are sponsors to each other, whether it’s to help you along in a class, to help you outside your training,” continued Cox. “As we move more toward a joint-operated force in combat and outside of combat, the bonds that people make now will pay off exponentially.”

This article was originally published at www.army.mil/article/168874

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