ZADAR, Croatia – Military personnel from 11 NATO-member nations took part in a tour of the Krka National Park located along the Krka River in Croatia on Sept. 15, 2012.
The Croatian military hosted the national park trip event to share the beauty and rich culture of their nation with the visiting participants of Jackal Stone 2012.
Hundreds of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen of multiple nations spent the day walking the park’s wooden and natural pathways built around and above the park’s many flowing streams and waterfalls. They explored caves, swam, and ate fine cuisine at various restaurants.
“I didn’t know how beautiful Croatia was,” said U.S. Army Spc. Trevor Trombley, a generator mechanic with the 317th Maintenance Company. “I had never seen anything like that. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”
Park employees demonstrated the ancient craft of iron-working and weaving of blankets and traditional garments for visitors in stone structures that have been intact for nearly a thousand years.
Some visitors spent a small fee to travel the Krka River by boat that docked at several small islands filled with various wildlife and old monasteries.
“It was a wonderful trip and I’m glad I got to go and have the opportunity to do something like this,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bianca Beckem, with the 435th Security Forces Squadron after taking the boat trip.
It was great to see a different side of Croatia with people who showed us the ins and outs of the area, she said. It helped build relationships between the different nations participating in this year’s training exercise.
Croatian Army 1st Lt. Marko Skourlj, a public affairs officer with the Croatian Army Peace Support Operation Center who helped plan the daylong event said he enjoyed seeing the visiting forces mixed among one another in a day of relaxation. He said the Croatian government wants the visitors to feel welcome.
“The purpose of the trip was to show the people our environment and to enjoy themselves,” he said. “It creates better bonds with one another.”
JS-12 is a U.S. European Command Joint Chiefs of Staff – directed exercise conducted in various locations throughout Croatia to enhance special operations capabilities. From Sept. 13 to Sept. 27, the multi-national exercise will involve approximately 1,700 military personnel from the U.S., Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.