Last three months - The army counts down to the end of the last guard company at Bagram
Several dead and wounded, but also experience that no simulator or training area can replace. This is what Bagram looks like, the place that is still the most demanding for the Army of the Czech Republic in terms of commitment and death toll, but is also the most useful. Many people recall for example the Shaikovac base in Kosovo as a part of modern history, but deployment in Afghanistan is the greatest international experience. The end of our troops's task in Afghanistan is inevitably approaching. What’s next?
14 Czech soldiers died in Afghanistan during the missions. In 2007, Staff Sergeant Nikolai Martynov died. In 2008, First Sergeant Milan Štěrba and Staff Sergeant Radim Vaculík died in Afghanistan. In 2011, First Class Sergeants Robert Vyroubal and Adrian Werner died. In 2014, an improvised explosive device killed First Class Sergeants David Beneš and Jaroslav Lieskovan, Sergeant Ivo Klusák, Corporals Libor Ligač and Jan Šenkýř. In 2018, Staff Sergeant Martin Marcin, Corporals Kamil Beneš and Patrik Štěpánek became victims. Tomáš Procházka, father of two children, was the last victim in the Herat region. This very sad balance has one thing in common - all the fallen soldiers belonged to the guard companies, or groups that conduct reconnaissance and patrol. It was a bloody sacrifice on an already bloody altar of sacrifice across countries that have troops in Afghanistan.
Looking away from the sad balance, we need to honestly consider the benefits as well. The mission in Afghanistan gives us the best experience of the combat environment, the soldiers are in international teams, relying not only on each other but on a whole range of support elements. There are forward air controllers, combat medics, combatants, scouts, snipers, etc. In short, Afghanistan is not an observation mission, or a place where we try to deter a potential adversary by our presence, as is the case, for example, in the Baltic region. Everything is real and painfully redeemed here, but the army gains invaluable experience every day. Every patrol, preparation for patrol, every coordination, everything counts.
And what’s next? As already written in the previous article, the military now focuses mainly on mentoring and medical support. On the one hand, it will be a demanding deployment, on the other hand, there is almost an absence of base trips (let's not count 601.skss, which operate practically in a secret mode and whose actions are not discussed), it will be a routine where the international environment will remain the main bonus. The question remains how long that will last. If Donald Trump heard the critics of the mission and withdrew the soldiers, we would of course withdraw as well. From Kabul as well.
The army will currently focus probably on the Mali area, where it is also possible to gain a lot of experience, both with regard to guarding the mission headquarters in Bamako, as well as training and other activities in the Koulikoro area. Repeated attacks by Islamists suggest that there will be no peace either. Every loss of human life is painful, and lessons must be learned and mistakes must not be repeated. But the need for real commitment will still put soldiers of all countries at risk of death, that is the fate that soldiers accept as a part of their work and mission, and for that the rest of us can be grateful.