SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina – Remembrance, reform, and unity were celebrated once again as the Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces hosted the 13th annual Armed Forces Day celebration Nov. 30 at Rajlovac Barracks in Sarajevo.
The celebration reflects the 2005 unification of the Bosniak-Croat Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serbs' Army of Republika Srpska into one entity – the Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces. The unification symbolizes what many say is significant reform in Bosnia-Herzegovina as it continues moving forward with a collective military force.
Establishing a reformed armed forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina was previously noted as a very complex process requiring optimism, vision, decisiveness and patience, said Željko Komšić, a Bosnia presidency member, during the fifth anniversary celebration.
While reflecting on the dynamic national history, Lt. Gen. Senad Mašović, chief of joint staff of the Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces, said that military readiness is imperative to meeting many of today's challenges.
The relationship between the Maryland National Guard and the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the U.S. Department of Defense's State Partnership Program has been invaluable in meeting those challenges, said Mašović.
"More than 5,200 military and civilian personnel from the state of Maryland and Bosnia and Herzegovina have trained or deployed together over the past 15 years," he said."That alone proves the level of trust and confidence, not only between our militaries, but also the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States."
The SPP pairs National Guard elements with partner nations worldwide. Begun in 1993, the program now has 75 partnerships with 81 countries.
Mašović expressed that hard work from both Maryland Guard and Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces members has led to greater levels of interoperability, increasing the operational capabilities of the Bosnia and Herzegovina armed forces.
"In my opinion, the most significant reflection of our cooperation was the joint deployment of the Maryland National Guard military police battalion and our Bosnia and Herzegovina military police unit to Afghanistan," Mašović said.
Elected leaders and senior military officials from around the world attended the Rajlovac Barracks celebrations, including U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, the Maryland Army National Guard's assistant adjutant general for Army, and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. April D. Vogel, the Maryland Guard's assistant adjutant general for Air.
"Your being here today is another confirmation of your strong support to the Bosnia and Herzegovina armed forces," said Mašović."It's also proof that we've gained the reputation of a successful part of our society that citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina can rely upon through the accomplishments and goals achieved."
Birckhead also reflected on the importance of building relationships and how far the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina have come over the past 15 years of the partnership.
"The Maryland National Guard has proudly served alongside the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina for well over a decade now," said Birckhead. "It's with great pride and distinction that today we celebrate our partnerships together as brothers and sisters striving to accomplish common goals in advising and assisting one another to collectively be better."