Stronger With Allies

  • #StrongerWithAllies: Lithuanian Combat Photographer Started with a Dogged Pursuit

    Sergeant Specialist Ieva Budzeikaite was less than two weeks into her award-winning career as a combat photographer when the Lithuanian Armed Forces gave her a chance to snap pictures of troops taking survival training.

    “How cool is that!” she thought.

    She had no clue that in the forested, swampy training grounds she would be running faster than she had in her life.

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: This Icelander Helps Improve Lives of Afghan Women

    Iceland has no military, but a young Icelander is spearheading an important NATO mission in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones: Afghanistan.

    Alfrun Perla Baldursdottir’s main task is improving the situation for women in a nation where gender inequality is so all-encompassing that “it’s like women are living in a totally different country than men,” she said.

    The 26-year-old is also trying to empower young people—those under 25—who account for a whopping two-thirds of Afghanistan’s 37 million people.

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  • Our Allies are Our Comparative Advantage

    In an era of great power competition, the United States should adopt a more permanent deterrence posture and bolster its alliances as a strategic comparative advantage over our adversaries. If we are concerned about near-peer competition from Russia and China, the United States must invest not only in its own capabilities, but also in its global alliance structure. Nurturing our alliances as a permanent asset rather than burdens will better prepare the United States for this era of great power competition.

    Polarization within our nation and tumultuous relations within our alliances risk making the United States look vulnerable to our adversaries. While some of these divisions are real, the United States and its allies are in fact more strategically aligned in grand strategy – enjoying the support of Republicans and Democrats – than they have been since 9/11, if not 1989.

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Lives Literally Depend on the Work of This Polish Officer

    When Polish troops flew back from peacekeeping duties in the Central African Republic in 2015, Warrant Officer Mariusz Maronski was waiting for them at the airport.

    He wasn’t part of a jubilant “Welcome home!” crowd. He was there for a far more serious reason.

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  • The United States is Stronger With Allies, Says Atlantic Council’s Damon Wilson

    Amid intense partisan polarization and high-profile disagreements between Washington and its allies, Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, on January 29 made the case for the United States to preserve its alliances. “US interests are best served when Washington and its allies act in unison,” Wilson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington in a hearing on China and Russia.

    As growing aggression from Russia and China becomes “the main geopolitical challenge of the 21st century,” Wilson said, “the United States is much better positioned if it does not assume the burden of countering Beijing and Moscow alone.”

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  • Wilson Testifies Before Senate Armed Services Committee on the Chinese and Russian Challenges

    Testimony before The Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Implementation of the National Defense Strategy
    January 29, 2019
    Permanent Deterrence and Bolstered Alliances in an Era of Great Power Competition
    Damon M. Wilson Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council 

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Serving with Pride

    When a reserved seventeen-year-old left his small rural hometown for basic training, he carried more than just his suitcases with him. Naval Lt. Jeremy Arsenault arrived at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for basic training in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as one of his town’s only residents to attend university and holding the heavy weight of a secret.

    “When I joined the CAF in 2006, I was still a closeted country boy,” he revealed. “I was very scared that someone was going to find out my secret and that it would negatively affect my career moving forward. I did everything I could to hide the fact that I was gay.”

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Danish Sergeant Wants to ‘Help Make a Change’

    Sgt. Kenneth Willander vividly recalls the day his comrade and friend, Pte. Steffen Bloch Larsen, was shot and killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Willander, who was injured in the Taliban ambush on September 19, 2009, and Larsen traveled together in a helicopter to the Camp Bastion Field Hospital in Helmand province. “Sitting in the Black Hawk helicopter holding his hand during the flight is the strongest memory I have,” he said. “We tried everything to save him.”

    “It is a hard job to maintain your focus every day when your closest friends die,” Willander added.

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Lithuanian Sharpshooter Has Security in His Sights

    Saturday mornings for Lithuanian National Guard Private First Class Adomas Bužinskas rarely begin with a steaming mug of coffee in bed. Instead, the highly-skilled sharpshooter is often lying in a deep, cold trench defending Lithuania’s borders.

    Lithuanians born after their country declared its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990, are often referred to as the “Freedom Generation.” Bužinskas is one of them.

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Polish Major Enlists His Personal Drone in His Unit’s Mission

    Two years ago, Maj. Marcel Podhorodecki bought himself a new toy—a battery-powered drone he could control with an application downloaded to his cellphone.

    The public affairs officer for Poland’s 12th Mechanized Division, an army unit that plays a key role in the defense of NATO’s eastern border, took a four-day course in the drone’s fundamentals. Determined to become a whiz at it, he began learning the DJI Phantom 4’s fine points by trial and error. Hundreds of practice hours later, the seventeen-year officer from Jelenia Gora in southwestern Poland achieved the mastery he had hoped for. In fact, he became so skilled that he began using the drone in his work at the 12th Mechanized’s home in Szczecin.

    The growing popularity of drones in journalism, film, and other kinds of communication means that some military public affairs units are acquiring them for missions. But Podhorodecki is likely the only military public affairs officer in the world using his...

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