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Capt. Marcin Smurawa, an aircraft maintenance officer for the Polish air force, is a member of the Military Personnel Exchange Program, which allows him to serve as a fuels management flight commander for the 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
The exchange program is a two-year course that personnel from NATO are able to participate in at bases across the U.S. Air Force.
Smurawa said when he saw the application released by authorities in Poland, he decided to apply and has learned a great deal since arriving at JB Charleston.
“I have always been interested in logistics,” said Smurawa. “I’m sure that the U.S. Air Force is the best place to understand how military logistics should look. What I would like to understand is how this career field works and what is possible for the Polish air force to adopt. That will increase both our efficiency and interoperability with our partners.”
Smurawa added he is most interested in learning how U.S. Air Force logisticians cooperate with maintenance while working for mutual success and learning from one another.
“I think myself and the Polish air force will benefit most from this program because the U.S. Air Force is the largest in NATO,” he added. “This is a huge organization that can handle business in a specific way that is easier and cheaper. We, as partners of the U.S., can benefit the most by looking for ways to improve our business and learning how to avoid failure and overcome shortfalls. We will be able to improve our air force as well as better cooperate with our partners during exercises and missions. I can also learn a lot about the understanding of leadership and mentoring. As a flight commander, I can learn to be a better manager and how my Airmen can do their best.”
The exchange program not only allows members of NATO militaries to be integrated into the U.S. military, it also allows members from the U.S. military to integrate into NATO militaries.
“There are also members from the U.S. Air Force that are taking part in this program,” said Smurawa. “Even in Poland, I’ve met two of them, U.S. Airmen benefit from this program also.”
Master Sgt. Douglas Braden, fuels management flight superintendent for the 628th LRS, described his experience working with Capt. Smurawa at JB Charleston as unique.
“A benefit to having Captain Smurawa in LRS and fuels is having a representative from another country come in and see the way we do business,” said Braden. “He’s able to see things through a different lens while providing insight on how their country does the process. It allows us to have a bilateral sharing of best practices that most places don’t see. Captain Smurawa is super intelligent, he gets our processes and operations here in the fuels flight. It’s really neat to have a situation to be able to train and mentor a Polish exchange officer, and it’s pretty cool to be able to take what we’ve given them here and use it at their respective bases in Poland.”
Braden added his time with Smurawa has been short but memorable.
“His leadership and outside the box thinking helps us leverage our personnel for awards,” said Braden. “We’re winning awards for our guys and he’s one of the people that helped mold that.”
Smurawa is just one example of how opportunities like the Military Personnel Exchange Program strengthen U.S. and NATO alliances, while driving innovation.