Ohio National Guard News

State Partnership Program:
Life of Ohio National Guard bilateral affairs officer
a unique experience

Story and photos by Capt. Samuel Atkins, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

The skyline of Belgrade, Serbia, the country’s capital, which rests between the Sava and Danube rivers. Here among the relics of the earliest civilizations, lives and works Capt. Daryl Scott, Ohio National Guard bilateral affairs officer.

Capt. Daryl Scott, bilateral affairs officer, in his office at the U.S. Embassy in the Republic of Serbia, Sept. 22, 2015. The bilateral affairs officer serves as the liaison between the Ohio National Guard and the Republic of Serbia and lives in Belgrade, Serbia during the three-year active-duty tour.

The International School of Belgrade’s Lower School is one of many schools that serve families of foreign diplomats and business people working in Belgrade, Serbia. Both of Scott’s children attended school there.

Capt. Daryl Scott, Ohio National Guard bilateral affairs officer, and his daughter Lilly play on the slide.

Capt. Daryl Scott, Ohio National Guard bilateral affairs officer, and his daughter Sofie play on the swings.

Sofie Scott, daughter of Capt. Daryl Scott, Ohio National Guard bilateral affairs officer, plays during recess

Capt. Daryl Scott (right), his wife Kimberly Scott (left), and daughters, Lilly (second from left) and Sofie during a visit to the Belgrade Fortress, Stari Grad, Belgrade, in the Republic of Serbia. In the background is the Great War Island, which sits at the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers. (Courtesy photo)

The doorstep of Capt. Daryl Scott’s home honors the Buckeye State while he lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia


BELGRADE, Serbia (09/22/15) — Capt. Daryl Scott, dressed in a full business suit, downshifts his Ford Focus, and in a highway merger display worthy of a NASCAR race, passes four European cars just in time to catch his exit to the U.S. Embassy in Serbia’s capital.

The city rests between the Sava and Danube rivers. It has a youthful energy and urban vitality uncharacteristic of its age. Here among the relics of the earliest civilizations, lives and works an Ohio National Guard member.

While stationed in Belgrade, Scott works as a bilateral affairs officer (BAO), a full-time liaison between the Ohio National Guard and the Republic of Serbia.

“My mission is to develop the Serbian Armed Forces, helping it move into a security provider for the region,” Scott said. “I encourage the Serbian military to participate in regional and international peacekeeping operations, though relationship building and military-to-military coordination.”

The BAO is part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP), which was established in 1993 and supports partnership with 70 countries all over the world. Each state partners with its own unique country for the purpose of improving bilateral relations with the United States.

The Ohio National Guard is partnered with Hungary and the Republic of Serbia, each with its own BAO position.

“The National Guard is ideal for this partnership because they are best structured to provide continuous engagement and relationship building with the Serbian Armed Forces,” said Michael D. Kirby, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Serbia. Guardsman understand the Serbian military lifestyle much better than their active-duty counterparts.”

Scott works in the U.S. Embassy for the defense team, which reports to Kirby.

“The BAO position offers a learning opportunity to see how government works, how the military interacts with the press, and how a U.S. Embassy works,” Kirby said.

The position requires more than just excellent driving skills.

“The BAO, in Serbia, is an Ohio Army National Guard position,” said Capt. Nathan Smith, Ohio National Guard State Partnership Program director. “An applicant must be at the rank of captain, meet the requirements for active duty, and be selected after an extensive interview process.”

In addition, the BAO requires a special kind of personality.

“The BAO position is a very rare, unique position that is an excellent broadening opportunity that’s hard to get somewhere else,” Kirby said. “It requires someone flexible, and prepared for hard work.”

Belgrade is located in central southeastern Europe, a few hours’ drive to the rest of the countries in the European Union.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to grow as an officer, especially for someone who likes a challenge and likes to travel,” Scott said.

The BAO position is a three-year temporary Active Guard/Reserve position, which authorized Scott to relocate his wife, Kim, and two daughters, Lilly and Sofie.

“At first I was a little scared having two young daughters, I wasn’t sure about school and I was a little concerned about moving them to a foreign country, but the transition was easy and we love it here,” Kim said.

Although, the national language of Serbia is Serbian, most speak English and there are several international schools for children, and the Department of Defense can help support tuition expenses.

Lilly and Sofia both attend The International School of Belgrade’s Lower School. The Lower School offers a Primary Years Program in English for students in pre-kindergarten through the fifth grade.

“The Lower School consists of about 180 students from 40 different countries,” said Brian Lettinga, the school’s principal. “The children come from families of businesses people working for large international companies and diplomats.”

“The position is not without its perks. Housing is affordable…it is zero dollars,” said Kirby.

Although, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is not authorized for this tour, Scott and his Family are provided a house to live in, free of charge.

“We completed an extensive questionnaire and the U.S. Embassy team found us a house that fit my Family’s needs,” Scott said.

Scott’s tour concludes in June 2016. The position for his replacement is now open to all qualified Ohio Army National Guard captains and majors interested in a once-in-a-career opportunity (click on the link at the end of the story for more information).

“This position has been a great experience for my career and my Family,” Scott said. “We are glad we took this opportunity and recommend it for anyone looking for a different experience.”

Current Ohio Army National Guard captains and majors can learn about the application and experience requirements for the position at: http://hr.ong.ohio.gov/Portals/0/job-postings/arng-jobs/BAO%20Serbia%20Job%20Announcement%202015.pdf.
The deadline for application packets is Dec. 31, 2015.

This is part of a series of features that highlight Ohio’s participation in the National Guard State Partnership Program.

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