Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Un adieu aux soldats français d'armée

Tonight we said farewell to our team of French officers and non commissioned officers as they will soon depart the theatre to return home to France. The most prominent of them all, was, of course, Capitain Stephane L'Expert, the task force liaison officer. Stephane has made great friendships in a very short time and made a very formal ceremony of saying good bye to all of those that had touched his task force.

In saying farewell, the commander issued certificates of friendship with those being honored. Many of us also received an honorary gift to remember our time with them. Our Marine Corps Liaison Officer, Captain Sean Forrester, and my deputy Lieutenant Cathrin Fraker had made the torturous climb up "The Gar" with the French weeks ago. As such, they were made honorary members of the French Mountain Regiment, famous for their huge Berets.

I received one of two berets of the French Infantry, which I wore proudly through the night. It was nice to expand our relationships here and to have the acknowledgement that we would see each other again. the french replacement company will arrive soon, but it seems that there will be a gap in the succession.

Finally, as the French First Sergeant was an Artilleryman with a strong appreciation for fellow Redlegs, they induced several of the soldiers fromt he 218th Field Artillery "Portland's Own" into the 40th (French) Artillery Regiment. Led by Major Robert Fraser and Staff Sergeant Don Olson, they were recognized with certificates as well as the traditional garrison caps worn by French Artillerymen.

The French contribution to the Phoenix mission here is academic as well as tactical, much like the American mission. They run the officer's training programs, at both the company grade (Captain's Course) and the field Grade (Staff College). It makes for an interesting variety amongst the trainers at Kabul Military Training Center.

It was a great night and a good reminder of the partnerships we are building across nations. it really is good to see other nations in the fight, working together for a better future of Afghanistan.

Merci et la bonne nuit mes amis,

-out here.


Blogger Kat said...

Moments you'll remember forever..... great story, great pics! Thanks!!!!

5:58 PM  

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