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Home : News
NEWS | March 14, 2023

US, Bosnia and Herzegovina Join Crisis Comms Workshop

By 1st Lt. Jasmine Mathews, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Maryland National Guard led a communication workshop in Sarajevo March 7-9. 

The event was coordinated with the U.S. Embassy Sarajevo and the U.S. Department of Defense Emergency Management and Resilience program under the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Institute for Security Governance.

Over two dozen participants from eight organizations developed an all-hazards communication plan and learned how to combat misinformation and enhance social media in a crisis.

“The lessons on creating crisis communications plans, message maps, and holding statements enhanced my previous public affairs knowledge,” said Erma Dudo, a public relations specialist with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ministry of Defense. “Listening to the subject matter experts’ experiences during crises was very valuable and provided an excellent example for us to follow.“

Bosnia and Herzegovina government personnel were able to improve public information capabilities when responding to disasters in the country. 

The workshop was conducted in cooperation with the Emergency Management and Resilience program, which supports NATO partner nations in building capacity for national-level and all-hazards disaster preparedness.

“The Bosnian public information officers we worked with are outstanding communicators who demonstrated their skills through the practical exercises we developed,” said Jay Field, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public affairs officer and subject matter expert for the EM&R program. “I enjoyed sharing our experiences; I find I learned as much from them as I hope they learned from me.”

The EM&R program, executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, facilitates inter-ministerial and civil-military cooperation to support disaster response.

“Communication is extremely challenging during a crisis, which is why we emphasize the importance of practicing, training and strengthening partnerships over time, not overnight,” said Maj. Gen. Kimberly M. Colloton, deputy commanding general for Military and International Operations, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “The Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maryland National Guard, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been training civil-military collaboration and emergency response since 2007.”

The Maryland National Guard celebrates 20 years of partnership with the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. The 30-year-old program consists of training, exercises and bilateral engagements to strengthen military capabilities and enhance cooperation between countries.