Lt. Col. David Fallon, Commander of Black Sea Rotational Force 15.1 "Even Though We Have a Different Nationality, We Are Here to Offer Our Support Unconditionally"
It’s been almost eight years since the first American soldiers came to Mihail Kogalniceanu Military Base. Today, soldiers from overseas are considered part of the local community, and the friendship feeling is mutual. Holidays spent thousands of kilometers away from home are however the moments they feel most our hospitality, meant to substitute as much as possible the absence of their families and loved ones. One of the most important holidays for Americans is, undoubtedly, Independence Day - July 4th. Lt. Col. David Fallon, commander of Black Sea Rotational Force 15.1. told us about the purpose of the Marines present in Mihail Kogalniceanu Base, about their missions, and also about the relationship with the Romanian people.
It’s been four months since the opening of the multinational annual exercise Black Sea Rotational Force 15.1 in Mihail Kogalniceanu Military Base. How do you estimate the effort level of the mission in Romania compared to the missions you have accomplished in other countries?I’m really impressed with all of the accomplishments of the Black Sea Rotational Force, both in our exercises and military-to-military engagements, as well as through our community outreach programs. We’ve participated in six multilateral exercises so far with great success. Two of which were in Romania, and we are about to begin our final two exercises where we will be working with Romanian troops in Georgia and Bulgaria. We’re also thankful to be so welcomed into the local community and we’ve tried to give back with equal generosity by conducting environmental clean-ups, displays of our gear and equipment, and serving underprivileged youth and renovation projects. Although we have a different nationality, we are committed to service, and that knows no borders.
General-Lieutenant Robert B. Neller - Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces-Europe attended the opening ceremony of the Black Sea Rotational Force 15.1 exercise in February this year. Did his presence in the beginning made the mission more compelling?Lt. Gen. Neller’s visit to Mihail Kogalniceanu emphasized the importance of our mission here. We have taken into account the guidance he gave and the feedback from the past rotations and our Romanian counterparts, and incorporated it into our actions to allow us even greater success than we could have imagined.
They say that Marines are known for their tough training. Tell us a little about being a Marine and who can join these troops.
The United States Marine Corps prides itself in being the most elite fighting force in the world. Our goal is not only to create great warfighters, but to create better American citizens. We look for the best Americans. It is a difficult process to become a Marine. Many are not qualified to be Marines. Our selection process is based on a number of different measurements, but largely are focus on mental aptitude, physical fitness, and they must be free of any character flaws. Once a Marine, it is this training and prowess that we hope to share with our allies around the globe and here in Romania. We know alongside our NATO partners we are not only stronger but can serve as a unified front against any threat we may face in the future.
Is the mission in Romania different from the missions undertaken in other parts of the world? What are the characteristics of the mission in our country?The Marine Corps has been very busy over the past two decades during the Global War on Terrorism. Our Marines have bravely fought in some of the most dynamic battlefields around the globe and during that time we fought alongside our partner nations during various coalitions. Our Marines are combat tested but we know the value of our allies and partners. Being forward postured near the Black Sea allows us to have a very flexible position to provide training and support to the region, and we see this as the way ahead as the world evolves because missions like this make us all stronger allies.
The Black Sea Rotational Force is a contingent of Marines and sailors in the Black Sea, Balkans and Caucasus that maintain proven partnerships, improves interoperability, promotes collective security and provides the capability for rapid crisis response as directed by U.S. European Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa.