SPRING STORM as is seen by a human

The US-Romanian military experience


The Romanian-American bilateral SPRING STORM 17 military exercise at Cape Midia had some extended exercises in the past days. The ultimate purpose of the exercises is to perfect the collaboration between the allied armies to protect the Romanian shore. But I  will not talk about that.

Saturday, 18th of March, the militaries of the US Marines and Romanian Naval Forces assaulted the land with amphibians, where they were counter-attacked, and they managed to reach land after being released from a battleship. An entire movie plot! Amazing. But, I will not talk about this either. I believe you can find it all over the internet at a quick Google search, and furthermore, because I could not manage to get there on Saturday and see it with my own eyes.

And you already know I tell my stories only with my own emotions. Yes, I know, this is not journalism, it’s story telling. But I entered today a parallel universe, I couldn’t even imagine.

Today, the 20th of March, the second part of the exercise took place(at least the second one with the press).

For me, it was purely amazing and out of this world. I only see, breathe and live through aviation, but today, a new universe revealed to me, and it was fascinating!

The first exercise was made in two teams of US Marines: one in the right of the shooting range, handling a (massive) Stinger rocket launcher,

and the other team shooting flares with huge cannons (pardon my lack of knowledge of the manufacturer, model and so on, but again, you can find it in a blink of an eye using the magic of Google search!). The flares were shot far above the sea, and the first team was shooting missiles at the flares.

A deep and sexy and heavy whistling sound combined with a strong „boom” filled the atmosphere and was going directly through my skin into my veins, every time the Stinger launched its missile to cut the air in half!

And YES, they managed to hit the target! The small bright light not very high upon the horizon line. Two out of five! The other three missiles passed very close by. Maybe my ignorance in the domain is speaking now, but I find that to be quite accurate. This is only my opinion. Maybe specialists will disagree, but my first impression will still be the same. These guys are bad ass!

The second exercise was held by the Romanian military, which shooted projectiles through loud cannons, and what is most impressive – do not think that our guys are less impressive or bad ass, oh they are! – is that if a missile does not explode, in their terms „a miss”, they can make such accurate calculations to find it and detonate it, as to reduce the searching area to 3 square meters, searching of a hole of  10-15 cm in diameter – again, my lack of knowledge is obvious, I have no idea what diameter has the missile, but this is a technical detail, not so relevant to the story. So, I was saying, they are searching in a HUGE field for a 10-15 cm diameter hole, and they are so well trained that, through calculations that only they know, they reduce the search area to a 3 square meters area, and they quickly find it and detonate it. I don’t care how sceptikal you are, or how much knowledge of military practices you have, you need to admit, that is so cool!

The third exercise, and my favorite, was the weapon knowledge exchange between the Romanian and US female divisions. Yes, there are divisions of girls only. This was the first time when girls were trained separately. Why? you may ask. Because they are training usually with the men. Yes, they can do pretty much everything a male military can do. Except, they can interact with muslim women and children better. They are getting trained to be send to interact with women whose religion does not allow them to be touched by men. So, our girls, can make a full body search for weapons, with no problem. Go girls! I am convinced this is history writing itself in front of my eyes…and that makes me feel so small, yet, honored to witness it.

But, again, this is not the story I want you to know. This is a short summary of the activities today.

What I actually want to tell you about, and what actually impressed me most were the humans beneath the uniforms.

Here I found a different kind of scholar, in the middle of the battlefield. Hidden behind a pile of GUNS, there was a pupil. A regular pupil learning to write something on his board, just like a pupil first time writing, he was making errors, and erasing his board several times, and making a brain-storm with his own mind.

That is what fascinated me the most. This is the story that I feel the need to tell. The pure, young and vibrant souls, that are capable of killing thousands of people in a blink of an eye, on the touch of a button or the press of a trigger. Isn’t that ironic?

I also found another kind of purity. Some tough guys, with amazingly beautiful confusing eyes that carried both joy and pride of the important roles they have in their life – and in ours, and the bitterness that is also included in their lives. I only watched this bunch of guys and find that in them, probably because they were the first guys that I looked straight into the eyes, like normal people, because they were on a break and I was not distracted by their mesmerizing activities.

Maybe all the soldiers have the same feelings, but I did not found that look in the Romanian’s eyes. Probably they have it also when dispatched in other countries!

I just saw in one’s eyes two so very different sections of their feelings, two so very different persons, contained in the each same being.

And guess what? I was so fascinated by the mixed emotions in their happy-sad eyes, that I forgot to photograph them, and now I really regret that! They were the greatest discovery of the day for me. You will just have to picture them. I also forgot to note their names, though I read each and everyone’s name tag, even under their vests…but what is a name? THEY know who they are! I just saw their souls, the double-challenged souls sparkling in their eyes, and I felt the need to find out how their individual universes are, at least a bit. I am so convinced they are not fully happy nowhere. I will explain immediately.

So, I was smoking a cigarette and shivering in the wind, and saw a military Hummer, the usual scenery for the place. What got my eye there, next to it, there were five very cheerful and young guys, and I was close enough to see their eyes. And I saw, and FELT, the contradiction: they were laughing and having a good time, but they also carried somehow a dark shimmer in their eyes.

I immediately felt the urge of talking to them. So, as I was approaching them, my mind was making scenarys, I was sure that the dark spot in their eyes was from being forced to kill someone. When I asked about the enemy they were very indifferent, not even touched! This was a puzzle.

Then I found out they were handling the communication equipment and systems. In my opinion, a very difficult and important task, but, that cannot bring the shadow in their eyes, which they were starting to hide already.

But when I asked about how tough it is to be far away from home and if they even remember home, the answer to my question came immediately: „Sometimes, HOME is all we think about”. And in that instant I felt that pain in my heart also. That is how powerful those words were. That must be so rough! They are so young, and they were even younger when they enrolled. A part of them following a family tradition, others, in order to find some life guidance, but I am sure that they know the importance of their roles, how important they are in all the defending the innocent people, and that gave them an addiction so great that they are willing to sacrifice themselves. And not in dying-dramaticaly-kind-of-way, but in sacrificing their own happiness. I know for sure that when they are in mission they miss home, and when they are home, they miss being in a mission. That is how much the supreme role of their life is of importance, of not feeling complete…nowhere. That is hard! That is the true sacrifice. And they all do it. No matter what their motivation is, they believe in it, and they do it!

I asked even more, and most of them can picture themselves leading a normal life, and their choices and wishes kept suprising me: a veterinarian, a male nurse, a crappy job in order to continue studies. But two of them had no answer, the youngest, which seemed to be too shy to say – ain’t that ironic, a traditional shy military – I adored the contrast!, and the one that had the roots of the army so deep into his heart and mind, that he would not be able to see himself otherwise than doing this. They all impressed me, they were all so different, but still, they were so resembling, they were a  family. All related through the same passion and through the same bitterness.

„The advantage is that you lose one family at home, but you gain another one here”. These words made me appreciate them even more.

Then we talked about small stuff like fun and schedules, but I was still shaked by their eyes. Their eyes were full of love. For the ones at home, wives, fiances, mothers and other members of the family, the love that hurt, and of the love for their jobs, and for their brother in arms. Humans. I saw the humans under the uniforms, and behind the activities that protect our civilian lives. No matter what.

Can we really relate to that? No.

Can we really understand that? No.

So this is my greatest discovery of the day. This is what I needed to tell you, because it’s the universe I never knew and just found out, and maybe not many of you know.

This is the army. A fascinating new world for me.


A friend of Aviation Headlines



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