Today, 12th of September (Thursday), at the Barracks Ilinden in Skopje, there was an award ceremony at which the USA Army awarded decorations to the service personnel of the Special Operations Regiment (SOR) and the Military Police Battalion (MPB) for their participation in the Task Force Phoenix, as a part of the ISAF mission in Iraq. The ceremony was attended by: the Chief of the General Staff of ARM, Lieutenant General Gorancho Koteski, the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia, H.E. Paul Wohlers, Vermont National Guard Commander, Major General Steven Cray, State Secretary of the Macedonian Ministry of Defence, Sasho Stefanovski and other guests from the Ministry of Defence and ARM.
On the behalf of the USA, the Vermont National Guard Commander, Major General Steven Cray, awarded the decorations to 79 members of the SOR and MPB for their high achievements and professional accomplishment of their tasks during the participation in the Task Forces Phoenix, as a part of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Each of them received an achievement medal from the Vermont National Guard and a commendation medal from the U.S. Army.
General Koteski, addressing the awarded soldiers, said that the decorations SOR and MPB personnel received are a result of their professionalism, courage, training, as well as their successful deployment in the peacekeeping mission. He highlighted that the service personnel have fully met the expectations and thus confirmed the strong partnership with the Vermont National Guard and the U.S. Army.
General Cray also highlighted that he was honoured to award the decorations, on the behalf of the US Army, to the ARM service personnel for their successful co- deployment with the Vermont National Guard members, which is a true testimony to their courage and it shows that the international standards have been reached.
The Phoenix mission in Afghanistan deployed 79 SOR and MPB service personnel who carried out all their tasks together with the Vermont National Guard and the US Army service personnel. The deployment was in 2010 and lasted 9 months, during which time the task force was deployed in the southeaster and northern part of Afghanistan. The main duties of the Task Force Phoenix were: training the Afghanistan National Army and Police Force, conducting joint peacekeeping activities promoting stability in the country, providing security detail for NATO and ISAF high ranking military personnel, joint activities for promoting democracy in Afghanistan with the NATO and USA Forces supporting the Afghanistan National Army and Police.