Slovak Leaders Visit Troops in Afghanistan
By Spc. Kelly Hunt, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Jan. 26, 2004 Slovakian troops here received the best wishes of their countrymen Jan. 23, as the country's prime minister and defense minister visited to offer them encouragement in their mission for freedom.
Prime Minister Mikul Dzurinda of Slovakia shakes the hand of Slovak 2nd Lt. Fejercak Lubumir, operational officer, as Defense Minister Juraj Lka is saluted by Slovak Lt. Col. Truska Jan during the leaders' Jan. 23 visit to their country's troops at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. Kelly Hunt, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Prime Minister Mikul Dzurinda walked steadily in front of a formation of troops who greeted their country's leader with a proud, solid salute as he began to cross their path.
He took his place in front of the formation, facing his troops as the Slovakian national anthem played loud and clear throughout the compound. When the last note was played, Dzurinda addressed his troops, commenting on the hard work they have put into extending the Bagram Air Base flightline and on their success as a component of the coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Dzurinda thanked Slovakian troops for their dedication to Operation Enduring Freedom, adding that the gratitude he expressed was not only for the role Slovakia plays in coalition support, but also for the help the country's soldiers are providing for the people of Afghanistan.
"The only way to fight terrorism is to fight on their ground," said Dzurinda. The prime minister added that he is "proud that two years ago we made the right choice to support coalition forces."
Defense Minister Juraj Lka wished his country's troops health in all that they are doing, and stressed the importance of their mission in support of Enduring Freedom. Lka told troops that since Slovakia plans on joining NATO in May, "this is one of the biggest tests for Slovak soldiers before they enter into NATO."
Many Slovak troops said the visit by Slovak officials to Bagram Air Base was an incredible honor.
"This is the greatest honor," said Slovak 2nd Lt. Fejercak Lubumir, operational officer. "We have not yet gotten situated here, and we are just technicians, so we appreciate that our prime minister came to visit us," he said with excitement in his voice and a smile on his face.
(Army Spc. Kelly Hunt is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)