Slovak Soldiers Return from Afghanistan and UNTSO Missions

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Defence Minister Peter Gajdos awarding the returning soldiers with the Military Cross (photo by TASR)

Martin, December 9 (TASR) – As many as 37 Slovak soldiers were ceremonially welcomed at the training battalion base in Martin on Friday to mark their return from the Resolute Support operation in Afghanistan and from the UNTSO mission in the Middle East.

“I highly appreciate the work of our professional soldiers in missions abroad, as each of them is a small diplomat in a way. I’m proud that this tour of duty was able to accomplish all its tasks. It shows that the Slovak Armed Forces carry out highly responsible work in these dangerous areas,” said Defence Minister Peter Gajdos (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee), adding that his ministry is planning a Christmas surprise for the soldiers.

First Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Slovak Armed Forces Pavol Macko stated that although there is no direct combat in the Resolute Support operation, it’s still very dangerous.

“Our main task in Afghanistan is to continue activities that were begun in a previous mission. We focus on training and supporting higher-ranking staff officers so that the Afghan security forces will soon be able to plan and carry out security operations on their own and maintain order on their own territory, keeping their armed forces in condition long term,” said Macko.

There’s a constant risk of assassination attempts on members of the Armed Forces, said commander of the Slovak contingent in Afghanistan Lubomir Rapco. “Higher-ranking Slovak officers who command the Resolute Support operation carry out mentoring at the Afghan Defence Ministry in the so-called Green Zone, which means that transfers to the building are provided either on foot or by vehicle. This zone can’t be closed off 100 percent, so there is a permanent risk,” said Rapco.

Gajdos also awarded the returning soldiers with the Military Cross – a memorial medal for participating in military operations, and a war veteran badge.