Members of the Slovenian Armed Forces prepare for the changed tasks in Afghanistan
On 24 December 2009, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted a decision that in the autumn 2010, Slovenia should take over the management of its own operational mentoring and liaison team (OMLT) within the international operation ISAF. The Government’s decision also determines that the number of Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) members and civil functional experts in Afghanistan should not exceed a total of 90 persons.
In accordance with the above-mentioned decision, the SAF formed the 14th Slovenian Contingent ISAF (SVNKON ISAF 14). The contingent is composed of members of different SAF units which have already undertaken preparations for a changed way of operations in Afghanistan. Currently, training in individual skills is underway, particular emphasis being placed on the refreshing of knowledge regarding weapons, first aid, orientation, law of armed conflict, force protection, and learning about the culture and the area. Servicemembers also renew their knowledge in the area of improvised explosive devices and surviving in the battlefield. Individuals also attend different courses in Slovenia and abroad, which are required for the performance of actual duties. Great emphasis is devoted to the building of a cohesive working team and psychophysical shape of servicemembers, which are both important factors in the provision of security.
Once individual trainings are completed, unit trainings will be carried out. They will take place at home and in a training range in Germany. The latter training is obligatory and is identical for all allied mentoring teams up to the battalion level. Those detailed to higher commands will also attend training at NATO centre in Poland, while training in the area of operation prior to the assuming of tasks is required for OMLTs of all armed forces.
Besides the infantry OMLT intended for mentoring and training of the infantry battalion of the Afghan armed forces in all operational phases, the SVNKON 14 ISAF is also composed of the National Support Element intended for administrative and logistic support to the operation of the entire contingent. In addition to the aforementioned tasks, certain servicemembers will perform tasks at ISAF commands, while a smaller part of servicemembers will continue to mentor the combat support battalion of the Afghan armed forces, which SAF members have been doing since autumn 2006. A civilian functional veterinary expert will also operate within the contingent.
The SVNKON 14 ISAF will also include US servicemembers. They will complement mentoring of certain duties within commands well as in one of the five companies of the Afghan battalion. Slovenian servicemembers will wear personal equipment and weapons, and drive 4x4 HMMWV and 6x6 Valuk light wheeled armoured vehicles, as well as 8x8 Svarun middle wheeled armoured vehicles. These will provide servicemembers with the protection against improvised explosive devices, which are the most common reason for injuries in Afghanistan.