ZABUL, Afghanistan- After four years of continuous 6-month deployments, the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment concluded their mission in Afghanistan. As 1-4 refocuses its effort on its main role as opposing forces for units preparing to deploy at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, their Romanian brothers from Zabul have taken a stronger, more active lead in the overall mission in Afghanistan.
According to Lt. Col Eliud Diaz, Task Force Hawk Deputy Commander, the partnership started in 2006 as a battalion-size Romanian task force with a company-size U.S. contingent. Over time, the 1-4 INF increased its role and added more staff personnel and enablers.
"This mission over the span of the last four years has greatly increased the capabilities of our Romanian counterparts," Diaz said. "It has encouraged them on a larger strategic level to the point where they were willing to commit more forces to the mission."
"It has been a pleasure for us to share in this experience with the Romanians," Diaz said. "They have come a long way in their ability to operate independently."
The Romanian Forces have taken on a larger leadership role within the ISAF mission, with one Romanian battalion serving as the main effort for ISAF forces in Zabul Province. In fact, Romanian forces are the only NATO to force to double their contribution to the war in Afghanistan by adding another Infantry battalion to their rotations over the past few years. Romanian Forces have developed four Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams that are currently working alongside the Afghan National Army forces to ensure security for the Afghan people. These OMLTs teach, coach, mentor and provide support to develop a self sufficient and professional ANA force. Much of this increased independence can be attributed to the partnership with the Soldiers of 1-4.
Diaz said that when it comes to his troops and the Romanian forces there really is no delineation. From the beginning, 1-4 platoons have operated alongside Romanian forces sharing command and control over each mission. Diaz also said one of the greatest accomplishments 1-4 has achieved is the relationship that has been forged between U.S. and Romanian Forces.
"I want them (1-4 Soldiers) to leave here knowing they were part of something special," Diaz said. "That their contribution has greatly enabled their partners; not only the Romanians but also the Afghans."
It's this legacy of cooperation and teamwork left behind by the Soldiers of 1-4 that Diaz hopes is remembered. It is this concept of partnership Diaz knows his Soldiers will embrace and encourage in others as they grow to become leaders and throughout their military careers.