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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard partners with Croatia to mentor Afghan Soldiers

The Minnesota National Guard announced today that 12 Soldiers, led by Army Maj John P Wisniewski, would deploy to Afghanistan as part of the fifth Operational Mentoring Liaison Team (OMLT) This joint team is part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and an extension of the State Partnership Program which began in January 2009 with the deployment of the first advisor team

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"This is the fifth group deploying to coach, teach and mentor an Afghan National Army battalion in order to increase the overall capabilities of the Afghan Security Force," said Army Sgt Ryan J Melek, communications support specialist for the team "I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve in the Minnesota National Guard in concert with the Croatians to provide training and mentoring for the Afghan National Army"

The official party included Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon and Col Kevin Gerdes, Deputy Commander, 34th Infantry Division

Solon recalled visiting Minnesota National Guard Soldiers in Bosnia to observe the peacekeeping mission in 2005

"When I traveled to the Balkans, Croatia was a nation who was still overcoming the scars of war and establishing its own credible security force," said Solon "But over the years " and with hard work and training with the Minnesota National Guard " Croatia was able to fully professionalize its military into a force worthy of being paired with you for this important mission"

Solon expressed her excitement for the state partnership and how it can serve as an example to the Afghan Soldiers

"If they work hard, stay focused, and disciplined, they too can overcome decades of tyranny and aspire to be in a respected position in the world," said Solon

The Soldiers are scheduled to relieve the fourth Operational Mentoring Liaison Team in the northern half of Afghanistan sometime in January, after a brief train up period in the US and Croatia, and are scheduled to be gone for no more than a year

The Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams aid the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in their mission of assisting the Government of Afghanistan in establishing and maintaining a safe and secure environment ISAF's key military tasks include: assisting the Afghan government in extending its authority across the country, conducting stability and security operations in co-ordination with the Afghan national security forces, mentoring and supporting the Afghanistan National Army and supporting Afghan government programs to disarm illegally armed groups

Story and photos by Sgt Dajon Schafer
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
7 July, 2011

 





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