The Mission of the 1st Rotation of the HDF Operational Advisory Team (OAT-1) will soon end in Afghanistan. The first rotation... in a new place, with a new system of tasks, new relations, new challenges. Yet, for the largest part of the team with less newness, as most part of the personnel has already been to this place, the world’s most backward, and most dangerous country, seven times bigger than Hungary, situated at the meeting point of the “Asian West and East”.

A handful of American and Hungarian soldiers stationed in Camp Mike Spann near Mazar-e Sharif, participated in the torchlight Medal Parade ceremony on Friday, November 15, so that after the execution of the handover/takeover procedure they can finally return home in early December.

ISAF Regional Command North Deputy Commanding General (RC-N), Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Craig Q. Timberlake, the US Senior National Representative (SNR) graced the event with his presence, and accepting the invitation he pinned up the honouring medals on the uniform of our soldiers.

In his speech General Timberlake highlighted the team’s achievements, spoke about the excellent relations between the American and the Hungarian soldiers, about the good management, about the significance of the words “comradeship” and “friendship”, without which the work done on the area of operation (AO), whatever sacrificing it may be, would not be very effective. He expressed his satisfaction concerning the liaison activity of the advisory personnel, thanks to which the RC-N became richer by a powerful lot of information. In his opinion, the work, performed with devotion and outstanding diligence in the past period, yielded that the level of preparedness of the Afghan Border Police (ABP) and the Afghan National Civil Order Police Brigade (ANCOP) improved greatly. He also expressed his appreciation for the special organisation of the Medal Parade.

After the official ceremony, the individual acknowledgements followed, where the team’s commander, deputy commander and command senior enlisted leaders, respectively, awarded the soldiers recognitions in the form of various gifts, tokens and memorial certificates.

The Team’s Commander Colonel Zsolt Molnár received the US ARMY Infantry Association Medal, which he could take from Lt. Col. David W. Ditz, the Team’s Deputy Commander. The Commander of the HDF Joint Forces Command granted recognition gifts to CSEL Lt. Col. David W. Ditz and CSEL William Dillon.

During the mission, we mentioned from month to month the results attained, and reported about the team’s tasks, activities. All the responses received reflect that it was well worth taking the countless efforts, and our soldiers with their deeds won the appreciation of both the Afghans and the international military community operating in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the soldiers are proud of their results, as the Hungarian Defence Forces have not carried out earlier such kind of duty (support and training of the border police and the national civil order police). Still, it is not the results achieved by devotion that really count, but the way, on which we proceeded to these results... by breaking new grounds with our pioneering work, which we will hand over in more accessible condition to the second rotation.

In the space of almost two months there were lots of things trying the patience, the perseverance, the benevolence; still the stresses , the confinement, the sight of the same faces day after day, the similar actions, sentences, the daily routine life did not cause problems, as the soldiers were driven by the acknowledgements, received, the estimation of the critics. They estimated the little blessings of life, and tried to make their own world better with different tips and ideas. They laughed much and many times. There were many hundreds of inflated rubber gloves to count the time left, Hungarian dishes prepared from very strange materials in extreme manner, special musical gift from Hungary, renovation of the memorial column, football match with the football team playing in the Balkh Provincial Championship, and an interesting domestic animal as well...

The personnel of the HDF OAT-1 shall continue to look ahead, and will hand over the tasks to the new arrivals to the best of their knowledge, and meanwhile they keep reflecting on the many memorable moments that come up in their memory, to which they did not attach importance when they actually happened.

(Warrant Officer Ferenc Csoma)