SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina – A joint team from the Maryland National Guard facilitated a public affairs workshop for Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) service members March 27-31 at the Army Hall in downtown Sarajevo.
The workshop was conducted with the U.S. Embassy Sarajevo’s Office of Defense Cooperation and the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program between Maryland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is celebrating its 20-year anniversary.
“The public affairs training this week has proven to be an incredibly valuable experience for our public affairs specialists in both Maryland and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said U.S. Army Maj. Erica Mitchell, commander of the 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD), Maryland Army National Guard. “The AFBiH members who attended the training are well-rounded communicators who showed fantastic interest, participation, and potential in improving their skill sets, and the experience helped our team of MDNG public affairs professionals grow as instructors. We are proud to be a part of the 20-year legacy of partnership between our countries.”
The training presented an opportunity to exchange experiences and military public affairs tactics through classroom and hands-on instruction. The training was designed to help familiarize AFBiH with public affairs best practices and improve capabilities for their units and AFBiH as a whole.
“This public affairs exchange promotes military cooperation and afforded opportunity to AFBiH members to build relationships with their public affairs colleagues in the Maryland National Guard,” said AFBiH Capt. Smail Mulić, Media Information Center public affairs officer. “It provided a broad approach and experience to deepening the reach of an effective public affairs program.”
Public affairs subject matter experts from the 29th MPAD and the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, demonstrated various techniques on photo, video, writing and social media to 15 AFBiH soldiers. The MDNG instructors provided their AFBiH counterparts with nine camera kits from the 29th MPAD to use during the training and mentored the class as they performed each lesson.
AFBiH will use the techniques learned throughout the training to produce communications products to better inform the public about the missions of AFBiH and partner operations.
“The training helped me a lot because I know how to use my camera in a better way and how to find my own creativity for taking photos and videos — especially in our job, where we need to catch the best moments,” said AFBiH 1st Lt. Tea Papić, an infantry officer.
The 30-year-old State Partnership Program pairs states and countries around the globe to develop military-to-military and interagency operations through training exercises and bilateral engagements that enhance cooperation between countries. Maryland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, partners since 2003, conduct about 25 events annually.
“The SPP between Maryland and Bosnia and Herzegovina has provided opportunities and challenges for Soldiers and Airmen that they cannot traditionally experience while serving strictly within their units in the U.S.,” said U.S. Army Maj. Harrison Bittenbender, MDNG SPP director. “For 20 years, the partnership has been a two-way street as the growth and improvements gained from these interactions impact members from both Maryland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Maryland and Bosnia and Herzegovina have expanded their relationship beyond traditional SPP exchanges to include combined leadership training and academic professional development, such as the public affairs workshop. During previous engagements, MDNG subject matter experts have shared their expertise in medical, cyber, aviation, maintenance and logistics, personnel, intelligence operations and military police.
“These engagements provide our members with an opportunity to lead their peers, while also demonstrating comprehension of their military occupation as subject matter experts,” said Bittenbender. “The interactions throughout these opportunities create memories and foster relationships that will stay with them long after they have taken off their uniform for the last time.“