2013.10.11 11:58

Minister Olekas: We have gained priceless experience in Ghor 2013.10.11 11:58

In October a conference was held at the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania ‘Lithuanian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team of Ghor Province, Afghanistan: mission completed’. 

In October a conference was held at the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania ‘Lithuanian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team of Ghor Province, Afghanistan: mission completed’.

The event organised by the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs focused on the achievements of the mission, experience gained, projects completed, and perspectives of further cooperation with Afghanistan.

While summarising the results of the mission which Lithuania had been conducting in the province of Ghor for eight years, Lithuania’s Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said: “I think that we have completed a meaningful, and what is more important, a successful mission. The province of Ghor we have departed from is a one that has clearly advanced while we have brought home invaluable experience.”

“We regard other potential operations as a challenge; however, we know that we will be able to respond to it. We are ready to make use of all the knowledge we have acquired. We are ready to contribute to building a safer world,” the Ministry of National Defence quotes Olekas as saying.

“After these eight years we are stronger, more experiences and better prepared. I am saying that in all conscience as I am conveying our allies’ appreciation heard more than once here in Vilnius, in Brussels, in Washington or in Kabul. We have become a true security provider. We have also earned a reputation of a reliable partner. We have fulfilled our tasks leaving the province ready for self-support,” the Minister stated.

When assessing the significance of Lithuania’s contribution to the mission in Afghanistan Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius also underscored that by contributing to international reconstruction efforts in the war-devastated country Lithuania has revealed itself as a responsible member of the international community able to commit to international security and stability.

“And here we are, at the end of a meaningful stage, and the progress is evident: more hospitals are there to provide medical services, more doctors take care of patients, more pupils, girls, in particular, gather to take classes. But what is even more important is the hope we have given to local people – a hope to live without war and to create the life of their own state,” Minister Linkevičius said.

In confirmation of all the praises the Lithuanian representatives had given to the mission Ambassador of the United States of America Deborah Ann Mc Carthy said the U.S. military will always remember Afghanistan as a place where they had strove for shared values shoulder to shoulder with Lithuania and other allies.

Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius, who had delivered an address at the conference, placed a particular emphasis on the experience the Lithuanian Armed Forces had brought back from Ghor. According to him, every individual participant and military units who had taken part in the mission acquired priceless experience.

“All the infantry battalions of the Lithuanian Land Force and four territorial units of the National Defence Volunteer Force have been deployed to the mission more than once. Now we can boldly state that the units operational in Lithuania have been tested on the ground and proved ready for homeland defence too,” Lt Gen A.Pocius.

Late in August 2013 Lithuania formally transferred the lead responsibility for security in the province of Ghor, Afghanistan, to Afghan National Security Forces thus finalising the first and the largest international mission Lithuania has conducted independently for eight years since June 2005 – the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) of Ghor, Afghanistan.

By conducting the joint civilian-military mission Lithuania along with other countries, Denmark, Georgia, Iceland, Japan, the US, Croatia and Ukraine, has helped the Government of Afghanistan to expand its authority in the province, to ensure security and to create favourable conditions for provincial development.

Over the duration of the mission Lithuania has deployed over 2,5 thousand of military personnel to serve in the PRT of Ghor province. Along with colleagues from other countries they were ensuring security and stability in the province, created conditions allowing local Government to perform its tasks and complete civilian projects safely, they were also training and consulting local security forces – troops and police officers of Ghor that are now in charge of security in their province.

The Ministry of Defence reminds that over the period of the mission Lithuania has facilitated completion of over 200 development co-operation projects in Ghor that contributed to the strengthening of the abilities of local governmental institutions, education and healthcare sectors, as well as advanced rural development and improved local infrastructure.