The Slovenia Times

Slovenia Winding Down Afghan Peace-Keeping Role


Ten years after joining the mission, Slovenia saw the return of the 20th contingent of its troops to ISAF. Only four Slovenian soldiers remained behind in the command centre, but that number will fall to two in June, who will see out the conclusion of the mission at year's end.

The last rotation of troops returned to Slovenia a month earlier than initially planned under a decision taken by Defence Minister Roman Jakič.

Symbolically, however, Slovenia will remain present in ISAF until the end with its staff in the ISAF command centre. "We are therefore staying in Herat with our allies - foremost Italy - until the end, concluding the mission at the end of the year as planned," the Chief of the Army General Staff Dobran Božič has told the STA.

Božič voiced satisfaction with Slovenia's involvement in ISAF. "I'm extremely proud of our service men and women for a job well done. At the same time, I'm a little sad, as this was a mission from which the Slovenian army learnt a lot. But the mission was accomplished," said Božič, who highlighted that all Slovenian soldiers had returned home safely.

As part of the winding down of Slovenia's participation, army equipment has been brought back to Slovenia. "Much of the equipment was successfully transported to Slovenia already in September," said Božič, who announced that the rest arrived on Monday.

A total of 1,296 Slovenian troops took part in the 20 six-month rotations sent to take part in ISAF over the past 10 years.

The NATO-led mission was launched in 2001 and is scheduled to end at the end of the year and be replaced by a training and advisory mission which will not involve combat operations.

The details of the post-ISAF mission have not been finalised as they require a blessing from a new Afghan president, who must still emerge from the ongoing election process.

Božič announced that Slovenia was gearing up for the follow-up mission "similarly to our allies". "We have the structures which can fulfil these tasks, but we're awaiting a political decision," he said and called for the speedy signing of a cooperation agreement with Afghan authorities.

He suggested that current talks envisaged that Slovenia would be present with around 15 service personnel, who would not necessarily be troops.

"The role of the coalition forces will be limited exclusively to assistance in training and mentoring. This will be a much more limited role than now, when soldiers training Afghani troops would then accompany them in carrying out activities," explained Božič.


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