ALEXANDRIA - Thousands of military athletes from the Conseil International du Sport Militaire's 128 member-nations are expected to seek "friendship through sport" during the 4th Military World Games Oct. 12-21 in Hyderabad, India.
CISM plays host to Military World Championships in more than 20 sports every year, but the Military World Games - held every four years since 1995 - is its premiere event.
"We have two goals," said CISM President Brig. Gen. Gianni Gola of Italy. "It is fundamental for us to have great competitions - to have the best military athletes competing - and we want to extend our values by developing friendship through sport. The ultimate goal is peace."
Brig. Gen. Gola hopes to attract 100 nations to compete in the games, which are on the radar of both the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations.
"We are very young, but still strong," Brig. Gen. Gola said. "We strive to keep our competitive sports at a high level, but we also place a lot of importance on values.
"We are considered a unique international sports organization. Thousands of military athletes, coaches, team captains and mission chiefs travel around the world to attend our events," he said.
The United States joined CISM in 1951, which today boasts 128 nations dedicated to "friendship through sports to get to peace," said Lt. Gen. James Lovelace Jr., the U.S. CISM chief of delegation.
"Our involvement in CISM strengthens important military interactions and builds trust between our multinational partners," Lt. Gen. Lovelace said. "I applaud India for organizing the fourth Military World Games. Under the CISM motto of friendship through sport, it will hopefully produce extremely positive and long-lasting relationships."
About 120 U.S. military athletes will compete in sports including boxing, judo, parachuting, sailing, shooting, soccer, swimming, track and field, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling in India.
They are expected to be most successful in shooting, parachuting, sailing and women's soccer, according to Suba Saty, the U.S. Armed Forces Sports secretariat, who will lead the American contingent to his homeland of India.
"This is going to be one of the most unique Military World Games because it's not in Europe, as were the last three," Mr. Saty said. "This time it's in Asia. Iran is coming, and we're hoping for Iraq and Afghanistan as well. South Korea and North Korea will be represented in individual sports. For those 10 days, hopefully, we can all come together on sports fields.
"We have seen our athletes being friendly and shaking hands with athletes from Iran and Syria. They have to be ambassadors," he added.
The U.S. military, in fact, received $1.2 million from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Military World Games because they are in Asia, a region deemed important to international relations by U.S. military officials.
(Tim Hipps is a public affairs officer with the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.)