The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


March 23, 2010

Name: CPT Mark Martin
Posting date: 3/24/10
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: New Hope, MN
Milblog: 270 Days in Afghanistan

Framed Martin MEDAL 1 Recently, we had a ceremony here to recognize those soldiers who had served longer than 30 days in theater with the International Security Assistance Forces (NATO) Afghanistan. To commemorate the international partnership and spirit of brotherhood as we continue to mentor the Afghans toward a stable democracy, the NATO ISAF Medal was awarded.

As a team, we decided to wait until we could get all of our troops back from leave before we awarded the medal. Therefore, our senior mentor, Lieutenant Colonel Vucic accepted the awards on behalf of the entire team. We'll have a chance to receive them individually once everyone returns.Framed Martin MEDAL 2

Since the war began, over 450,000 troops from more than 72 different nations have been awarded the medal, the bulk of which have been from the US. Popular opinion about the award has been mixed on the US side, with some remarking that it is a "warm body" award to everyone who is serving in theater, regardless of their job, rank or position. However, as I spoke with my Croatian partners, I began to see it from their point of view.

Framed Martin MEDAL 3 To the Croatians, it is all about the camaraderie and partnership between nations. As you might imagine, they are very "European" in their views, aligning closely with the views held by Germany. For them, it is more important to have a consensus with other nations rather than exercise unilateral authority. Regardless of the political angle, Croatia is certainly not a superpower on level with the USA, and they know it. Their opportunity to contribute to this fight for democracy in the middle east is limited to the ISAF mission here in Northern Afghanistan. Therefore, they take the award of this medal quite seriously. It is noteworthy for them to have a chance to give back to another nation what they had to fight to secure for themselves in their Homeland War.Framed Martin MEDAL 4

 I consider myself fortunate to have had this opportunity to serve alongside my Croatian partners here in Afghanistan. Seeing things from their perspective has not always been easy, but it has always been interesting.


This article caught my attention from another site and I had to comment on it. I'm American but am of Croatia descent from both sides of my family. The Croatian people are a very strong and dedicated bunch of people and this article to me is very heart-warming...I actually know of someone that served in Afghanistan with Croatia's MP. I'm going to pasS this along to my family and friends!

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