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Aug 9 2023

Allied soldiers connect with Polish communities and build partnerships through music

BEMOWO PISKIE, Poland – At Bemowo Piskie Training Area (BPTA), American, British, Croatian, and Polish military service members come together to build military interoperability through tough, realistic tactical training. Yet, some of NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Poland soldiers team up not just to train, but to build interoperability and partnership through music.

The multinational band has humble beginnings with service members seeking out fellow music lovers and gathering for private rehearsals during off-duty time. Today, the band has grown, and over the past five months has performed concerts for the Polish public and military members alike, including an International Women’s Day celebration, American Independence Day, performances at cultural centers in Poland, and concerts for the troops at BPTA as part of the base’s morale, welfare, and recreation program.

The strong personal relationships and dedication to teamwork amongst "The Diplomats" mirror their shared NATO mission and reflect how each nation's service members at BPTA work together, regardless of their backgrounds, to communicate effectively and support NATO’s eFP Battle Group Poland.

The leader of "The Diplomats", Croatian Army Major Ivan Kamber, contingent commander of the Croatian eFP Battlegroup Poland, started playing guitar in college before his 17-year career in the Croatian military. He was intrigued by the idea of creating a band when arriving at BPTA.

While the band spends their off-duty time creating music, building goodwill and enhancing international relationships within NATO, during the duty day they are hard at work in their respective military jobs doing the same  working to build interoperability and maintain peace and security in Europe.

As deployment rotations in Poland came to an end for the original members of "The Diplomats", the search for interested musicians to carry on the legacy began. U.S. Army Specialist Jud Oviatt joined the band in late April as a drummer.

U.S. Army Specialist Jud Oviatt with 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment plays the drums during a concert with his band "The Diplomats" in Pisz, Poland, July 7, 2023 © Sergeant Alex Soliday
Croatian Army Major Ivan Kamber (first on the right) and "The Diplomats" perform for eFP troops at BPTA, Poland, April 2023 © Staff Sgt. Matthew Foster 
Having that bond, having that connection through music and being with other soldiers from other countries while playing together has sparked something in me,

Oviatt said, describing how playing in the band has impacted him. Continuing to perform in multiple events and locations, the skills used by the band have helped each member not just at a personal level, but at a strategic level within the military and NATO. U.S. Army Captain Mark McDonald, the Battlegroup's chaplain, noticed the strategic importance of the band right away. "The band’s mission is to go around to increase morale and to show the world that stronger together, really means, stronger together."

It’s good to see how people, both military and civilian, can come together for a common goal.
The Diplomats perform at the Cultural Center in Ełk, Poland for an Autism Awareness event as guest performers among many talented musical groups from the community, April 2023 © Staff Sergeant Matthew Foster
The Diplomats, incl. U.S. soldiers with 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Croatian soldiers with the 11th Croatian Contingent and Polish interpreters supporting NATO eFP Battlegroup Poland, gather for a "family photo" before their concert begins in Pisz, Poland, July 7, 2023 © Sergeant Alex Soliday

Kamber, who is preparing to rotate out of BPTA in the coming week, spoke about the power of music and its role in building friendships throughout NATO. "I would like to see the band continue after I leave,” Kamber said. 

This band shows how different nations, cultures, and languages can join together and build something amazing. Whatever we can do as individual nations, we can do it combined. This reflects the inoperability the military is capable of.
The Diplomats and NATO eFP Battlegroup Poland join local communities in Orzysz, Poland for an event increasing public awareness about violence against children, April 2023 © Krzysztof Roszko

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office, courtesy of Sergeant Alex Soliday, 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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