Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta visited troops from his country in southern Kandahar province on Sunday (June 29) to mark an end to combat mission in Afghanistan.
An ISAF statement on Tuesday said a ceremony on the Kandahar Airfield was held for the 20th Infantry Battalion, Task Force 20, also known as the Black Scorpions, to demonstrate a transition from combat to support operations in Afghanistan.
During his visit, Ponta was accompanied by Vice Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea and Minister of Defense Mircea Dusa.
He expressed his appreciation for the Black Scorpions and all Romanians who have served in Afghanistan.
The PM congratulated the troops on seeing the war through to the end, protecting the Afghans, and helping to build their infrastructure.
The Black Scorpions’ mission had been to make important routes safe in Regional Command (South) by clearing them of improvised explosives planted by insurgents --- an important responsibility now given to Afghan National Security Forces.
Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, commanding general of Regional Command (South) and 4th Inf. Division, on behalf of Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid, commander of the Afghan National Army 205th Corps, thanked the 20th Inf. for their service in Afghanistan.
“The fine soldiers of Task Force 20 have been operating in Zabul province for the last six months, working closely with our Afghan security partners, and also other International Security Assistance Forces to improve the conditions for the Afghan people at this critical junction in the fight,” said LaCamera.
“Securing Highway One is an important mission at which the Black Scorpions excel. They may be leaving, but the Romanian commitment, and their impact on the Afghan people, will surely continue.”
While the Prime Minister was eating lunch with the soldiers following the ceremony, Kandahar Airfield received a rocket attack, halting the event so everyone could take shelter. Once the base was cleared, the visit continued as scheduled.
When asked about the rocket attack Ponta said, "I am sorry we didn't get to sit down longer with our troops. It was a minor incident which gave some color to the event."
After laying a wreath at a monument established to honor fallen Romanians, Ponta emphasized that Romanian soldiers risked their lives daily on patrol
Source:Pajhwok news agency