Story by: Specialist Jennifer Ocque - CJTF Phoenix Public Affairs Dated: Tue, May 6, 2008
CAMP PHOENIX, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Eight members of an Embedded Training Team from the New York National Guard were honored during an awards ceremony at Patrit Square, Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan last Saturday.
Bronze Star Medals and an Army Achievement Medal were awarded to the Soldiers for their year of service as mentors for the Afhan National Security Forces.Maj. Chris P. Guziec said they are one of the last groups to be deployed for a total of 15 months. They arrived in Afghanistan last May.
They had three months of training prior to deployment in preparation for their mission. We were the last group with a long tour of 12 months ‘boots on the ground’ and we’re proud of our achievements,” Guziec said.
When the ETT arrived in Afghanistan, Guziec set goals for both himself and his team. “I wanted to bring everyone home,” he said. “For the team, it was making the Afghan National Army a better Army.”
In addition to helping to train Afghan enlisted Soldiers, the team focused on developing Afghan leaders at the Kandak, or battalion level. This meant teaching the U.S. Army’s Military Decision Making Process in order to plan operations.
Later, Guziec arranged to bring evaluators from the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA to Afghanistan to validate the Afghan leaders’ skills.“We were able to conduct MDMP with the Kandak Staff,” said Capt. Mark J. Walsh. “We feel that we increased the planning capabilities of our Kandak,” he said. “We have a lot more work to do in the logistical area, but the new ETTs will continue working on the logistics part,” he added.
During the deployment, the New York team was partnered with other coalition force troops to train members of the Afghan National Army. According to Walsh, the ANA is now more capable of working alongside coalition forces in combat. “In the past the coalition forces did more ground combat. Now the ANA have been much more integrated into combat operations. As of now, with some operations, the ANA takes the lead,” said Walsh. “It’s a challenging road to get them to be a standalone army. They know how to fight, but it’s about being a professional army that they need assistance with,” said Walsh.
Sergeant First Class Jeffrey E. Bailey from Syracuse, another member of the ETT, worked daily with the Afghan National Police. “Working with and getting to know the ANP and finding out they are a truly professional force,” is one of the things he will remember from his time here.
Seven Bronze Star Medals and an Army Commendation Medal were awarded to the Soldiers for their hard work and sacrifices made duing their year-long deployment.
The team is now headed home to be reunited with their loved ones. When asked what he would do first Sgt. Bailey said, “Hug my wife,” and noted that he will wait for his Bronze Star Medal to be awarded until he is home so he can share the moment with his famil.“Keep a cool head. Keep in shape, and look out for your buddy,” advised Bailey to the Soldiers just arriving to begin their tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Bronze Star Medal Recipients: Capt. Steven Amendola from Commack, Sgt 1st Class Jeffrey Bailey from Syracuse, 1st Lt. Terry Benson from Glens Falls, Maj. Christopher Cronin from Victor, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Rutter Mansville, Capt. Ian Seagriff from Staten Island, and Capt Mark Walsh from Albany. Army Commendation Medal recipient: Staff Sgt. Daniel Wilson from Albany.