Armed Forces of Montenegro 2nd Lt. Marija Knezevic poses with the nation's flag at Camp Marmal, Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. Knezevic, a staff officer at Train, Advise, Assist Command - North, is the first woman officer from Montenegro to deploy and serve in Afghanistan. Montenegro has supported the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan since 2010, and celebrates their one-year anniversary as a NATO ally on June 5, 2018. (NATP photo by Jordan Belser)
By: Maj. Gianluca Cinque, Resolute Support Public Affairs
KABUL, Afghanistan – Today, June 5, the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions celebrates Montenegro’s one-year anniversary of NATO membership. It also marks eight years of Montenegro’s commitment to Afghanistan’s security.
"The one-year anniversary of Montenegro’s NATO membership is a great honor for us,” said Montenegrin 2nd Lt. Marija Knezevic, a staff officer assigned to the Train, Advise and Assist Command West (TAAC-W) in Afghanistan. "We have served here in Afghanistan since 2010, in support to this important NATO-led mission. We are a great team here, serving with all of the other nations in this Command; we support each other and enjoy working together.”
Knezevic is Montenegro’s first military servicewoman to deploy to Afghanistan over the country’s eight-year involvement. She arrived in country on March 7 2018, and will serve for just over six months as part of a team which provides support to the further development of the Afghan National Army.
"This is my first deployment to Afghanistan. It is an honor to represent my country as the first female officer from Montenegro to serve with the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission,” Knezevic said.
Over eight years of support for the Afghan National Army, Montenegro has donated more than 1,600 weapons and 250,000 rounds of ammunition. The government’s commitment to Afghanistan has also included pledging financial support for the future development and sustainment of the Afghan security forces.
Montenegro joined the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in 2010, with an initial contribution of troops assigned to operate alongside Croatian troops. Following the completion of ISAF’s operation at the end of 2014, Montenegro decided to support the follow-on NATO-led Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces alongside 38 nations, including NATO Allies and partners.
"I think it’s great to work in a multi-national environment because it’s a great experience for me, and the rest of the Montenegrins,” Knezevic said. "There are many people here with a great deal of experience, and we have the opportunity to learn from them.”
Knezevic encourages other women to consider a military career, describing it as a path which provides excellent opportunities for professional and personal growth.
"I think it will be very useful to take the things I’ve learned here because it’s a tough and rewarding work,” Knezevic pointed out. "Of course, I can use this experience when I return home and for the rest of my career, maybe on a deployment somewhere else,” she added.
Since joining NATO, Montenegro has been fully integrated into the NATO Command Structure and has proven itself as a reliable ally by contributing to our Euro-Atlantic security and enhancing international stability through the deployment of its troops to the NATO-led Mission in Afghanistan. Its distinctive and determined commitment to the country has proven to be essential to the common goals of the Alliance. The efforts made by Montenegro within Resolute Support reflect that NATO is an effective alliance of 29 Allies standing together and protecting each other in a challenging security environment.
Established in 2015, Resolute Support (RS) is a NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), who assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan’s security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner, with the goal to pave the way for lasting peace in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from becoming again a safe haven for terrorism.