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Mar 3 2022

Meet the Soldier - U.S. Mass communication specialist 1st class Brett Dodge

NATO exercises, like Brilliant Jump 22, bring together civilian and military personnel from all 30 Allied nations as well as partners.  

Meet U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brett Dodge.  We asked him questions about who he is, his military career and what he will be doing during Exercise Brilliant Jump 2022. 

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1. Where are you from?

I'm from Beaufort, South Carolina, a beautiful little set of islands on the east coast of the states.

2. How long have you been in the military? Why did you decide to join?

I've been in the Navy for over seven years. I joined because after finishing college I thought 'I need an adventure and what is the cheapest way for me to get a graduate degree,' so seven years later the adventure continues here in Norway.

3. Have you deployed before, either on a NATO exercise or other mission?

I've been fortunate enough working in public affairs to deploy all over the world on both national and NATO exercises and operations. My first deployment was aboard a guided-missile destroyer called the USS Stout, which is still my favourite ship in the Navy. We deployed for seven months throughout the US 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation, so in laymen's terms the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf.

Further deployments include exercises in South America, Africa and another seven-month stint as the public affairs officer of the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS) located in Romania – which is essentially a ship built into the ground.

Over the past three and a half years I've had the privilege and sometimes challenge of calling NATO home. I've supported many major exercises throughout Allied and partner nations which have been unforgettable experiences. Being in Norway now I'm running into Norwegian troops I met back in 2018 while supporting Exercise Trident Juncture! From chilling in an Italian submarine to having flash grenades thrown at me in an abandoned Soviet building in Romania, this has been an adventure.

4. What are your expectations of this exercise?

My expectations for Brilliant Jump 22 are to show the world – through video, imagery, interviews, etc – what the NATO Response Force troops supporting this exercise are capable of.

5. What is your role/job in the military and during this exercise?

My job is to use multimedia to show the world, the public, our Allies, partners and adversaries what NATO troops can do. I will be in the field meeting and learning from the multinational troops on the ground so that I can then tell their stories through social media channels. Throughout my career I've had the pleasure of working with and meeting people from all walks of life and getting to know them and telling their stories. This is without a doubt the best job in the military.

6. How did you and your unit prepare for this cold weather?

My team and I actually drove up to Norway from Belgium. Due to the amount of gear – cameras, computers, monitors, etc – that we travel with, it was more practical for us to drive rather than transport everything through an airline. We've all had quite a bit of experience supporting NATO exercises, so we didn't focus on anything specific in preparation, but we did make sure we brought plenty of gear to do our jobs in the cold weather and snow.

7. What do you do in your down time to relax?

My two great passions are football (football, it's not called soccer, let's be real) and cooking. I've played football since I knew how to walk, and I've been cooking since my parents would let me touch the stove. I can spend hours in the kitchen preparing a meal and probably my favourite thing on earth is cooking a nice dinner to share with others. I truly believe the best bonds can be made over food.

8. What is the best thing about being in the military?

The best thing about being a sailor is getting to experience so many different people from all over the world. Whether you are working nationally or with multinational personnel, everyone has a story to tell; you just have to look for it and listen.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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