MY CROATIAN PARTNERS |
March 23, 2010
Name: CPT Mark Martin
Posting date: 3/24/10
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: New Hope, MN
Milblog: 270 Days in Afghanistan
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.
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.
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.
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.