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North Carolina Guardsman bridges the communication gap in Romania

By Sgt. Odaliska Almonte, North Carolina National Guard July 25, 2017

CINCU, Romania -- Exercise Saber Guardian 17 was a U.S. European Command training event that took place in July, in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and involved more than 25,000 service members from over 20 allied and partner nations.

The middle of a large exercise like this is not the time or place to have miscommunication issues. It is a time when all military personnel need to be on the same page.

Being able to communicate helps all parties involved to complete a safe and successful mission, no one can afford to have part of a mission lost in translation. Having someone who is proficient in both the English language and the host country's language was imperative to an effective mission during Exercise Saber Guardian.

When the 5-113th Field Artillery had confirmation of their involvement with Saber Guardian, they reached out to one Soldier in the N.C. Guard that could help bridge any gaps in communication that might occur, Spc. Gizela Lupescu.

Lupescu is a Romanian born U.S. Soldier serving with Company, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, as a combat medic.

When Lupescu joined the military she initially wanted to serve in the military intelligence career field and be a linguist. At the time she was not a U.S. citizen and did not qualify for the position. She instead dedicated her training and education to emergency and tactical medicine.

However, the opportunity for her to use her linguistics skills was not far off. As part of the 230th BSB, she had the opportunity to participate in training exercises with Moldova as part of the N.C. National Guard State Partnership Program. In Moldova they speak Romanian.

With several opportunities under her belt as an interpreter for Moldova her linguistic skills were once again in demand but this time it was for one of the NATO's largest yearly exercises, Saber Guardian.

Saber Guardian not only gave Lupescu the opportunity to use her language skills to help both the U.S. and Romania, it also took her back home to her birth country.

"I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity," Lupescu said. "We are learning to collaborate with each other and speak the same language. When we finally get to be in the battle zone we will at that point understand each other, what the other one does and how they do it."

Once in Romania the 5-113th was eager to learn more about how to properly interact with their Romanian counterparts, and learn more about their culture and customs. Lupescu was there to help.

"Soldiers would ask me questions about how to interact with Romanians and the staple foods," she said. "I usually tell them that Romanians are not that different from Americans. Romanians love the American culture which would put them at ease."

As the gears switched from initial set up to mission preparations, Lupesco was readily available to help keep communications clear during the live fire exercise planning.

"Romanian soldiers were surprised at first to see someone in American uniform start speaking in Romanian," Lupesco said. "But immediately I felt the warmth and welcome. The interaction was very familiar, is what I would expect if I was outside the uniform."

When it came time for the live exercise the operation when smoothly. American and Romanian Soldiers were able to coordinate their operation under a unified command thank to the help of one Romanian born U.S. Soldier.

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