Being a part of something from the start can be one of the most painful things you will do—but it can also be one of the most rewarding. In late August 2017, Romania will stand up its Joint Special Operations Forces (SOF) Headquarters, the start of a journey into uncharted waters for the nation. The Romanian Minister of Defense (MOD) has partnered with the GSF to host the first special event for the Headquarters and we are encouraging you to be there.

When I was selected for promotion to Colonel, one of the three things I asked to do was to lead the effort to establish a new NATO SOF Headquarters Component. I worked insane hours doing things I was completely unprepared to do, but I did it with a team of people that I really loved being around. In the end, it was one of the longest and most difficult assignments I had during my career, but also one of the most rewarding.  Being first meant something.

Make no mistake about it, new initiatives are almost always met with overwhelming resistance and good people get bloody. Change is hard and the military often breeds some of the most resistance to it. The new Romanian SOF Headquarters will run into resistance, but persistence beats resistance every time and with the right support the new headquarters will grow and prosper.  The people who are believers and jump into the effort from the beginning will gain invaluable strength and tenacity.

I learned a lot during my experience because we were all asked to do things that we were not trained to do. We educated ourselves because we had to in order to achieve our mission, and as a result we all grew. Looking back on those days, I learned the most about people…the chemistry of a unit and what different stressors do to individuals. Some of your teammates will struggle to keep up no matter how hard they try, but if they are willing to work you have to play to their strengths. Countless times I saw people of lesser rank or education become the critical element to a crucial aspect of the mission. The teamwork and trust from those experiences made all of us involved lifelong friends.

On 27 – 28 September 2017 Romania will co-host the Global SOF Symposium – Europe in Bucharest, Romania. The attendees will be there from the beginning of Romania’s Joint SOF journey.  If you are interested in being a part of that journey, visit the symposium website at http://www.globalsofsymposium.org/europe and register. Whether you join us for personal, political, or business reasons, being first matters and the relationships you build will be lifelong.