Maj. Gen. Walter Holmes, CA Army
Remarks- Memorial Service
The purpose of this morningís short ceremony is to recognize the sacrifice that has been made by the soldiers who serve our respective nations.
AMF(L) performs this memorial service as part of every exercise deployment. Its purpose is not to glorify war. Rather, it is to celebrate the peace that has been achieved by the sacrifice of those soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have gone on before us or who are continuing to defend the freedom of our respective nations by their participation around the world on peace support operations.
There are currently over 2000 soldiers from 21 nations participating on the exercise Cooperative Adventure Exchange 2002 at the Yavoriv Training Center. There have been previous partnership exercises here and exercises where one NATO nation has participated. This exercise is different in that it is a NATO exercise open to NATO partners. As such it is the first NATO exercise to be conducted in Ukraine.
The conduct of such an exercise just thirteen years ago would have been unthinkable. The military cooperation that has been fostered through the NATO Partnership for Peace Program has been instrumental in spreading mutual understanding and respect between our respective military forces and through them to our nations over the past decade. The scale of this exercise and its broad participation of NATO and partner nations is an indication of the success of the Partnership Program and is an important step in the programís continued success.
Throughout the exercise Cooperative Adventure Exchange 2002 the Forces will be developing the knowledge and practicing the skills they will need to be able to work together on Peace Support Operations. Although the scenario for this exercise is fictitious, the situations portrayed and the soldier skills necessary to deal with them are those that are being practiced by the soldiers from all nations operating together on current Peace Support Operations.
As soldiers we know very well the cost of violence and war The costs are not only borne by the soldiers who fight them on behalf of their nations. There is a huge price borne by the civilian society in the area of the conflict that is too often forgotten. Military and political cooperation between our nations to avoid or mitigate conflict around the world is essential. Training together, as we will be doing over the next two weeks, can only improve our capability to operate together in areas of conflict when the call comes for us to do so.
The monument behind me is representative of those that stand in all our nations. It recognizes the sacrifice that has been paid by our soldiers in past conflicts and it serves as a reminder of the terrible costs of armed conflict. Regrettably the noble cause of mitigating conflict through Peace Support Operations is not with out significant risk. Inevitably some soldiers serving on these operations will lose their lives in the service of peace. Let us honor the memory of those that have gone before and pray for the safe return of those serving on current operations.