CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- Soldiers with the Danish Contingent gathered for an end of mission ceremony aboard Camp Bastion as they bid farewell to their coalition counterparts, May 20.
While deployed in support of the International Security Assistance Force, DANCON worked under Task Force Helmand to aid in security force assistance within Helmand province.
“I want to thank you for your steadfast partnership,” said Brigadier Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, commander, Regional Command (Southwest). “We are grateful for all of your support. Your soldiers should be proud of their multiple deployments here and accomplishments, and for distinguishing themselves with valor on the modern battlefields of Afghanistan. Your country should take pride in your professionalism and commitment.”
Since ISAF entered Afghanistan, Denmark has been a committed and loyal coalition partner.
“In 2001 a strong coalition made a commitment to eliminate a significant threat to international security emanating from this country, Afghanistan,” said Danish Col. Michael Thogersen, DANCON commander, during the ceremony. “The mission changed to advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces as they began protecting their population. We’ve helped them with building and training an army and police force fit for delivering security to their own people. The mission has led to a tactical improvement to the lives of ordinary Afghans.”
This year marked the 17th rotation and final deployment to Afghanistan for DANCON. Since their first mission began, more than 18,000 Danish soldiers have deployed to the country. Throughout their deployments in Afghanistan, 33 soldiers were killed in action.
“We have lost so many first class, dedicated soldiers and comrades, and numerous soldiers have been injured,” said Thogersen. “I know the costs have been monumental for all of us, including the ANSF. The bravery of the many soldiers killed or wounded in action is a constant reminder to do what we can to ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain. We will always remember them.
“We have shared hardships, victories, acts of valor and strategies,” said Thogersen, in regard to working with coalition partners over the years. “And even though we have differences in military tradition and doctrine, we have overcome them and now we stand more united than ever. We’ve served in Afghanistan to protect our nations, and now we watch our Afghan counterparts do the same.”
Toward the end of the ceremony, Danish Lt. Martin B. Pedersen was recognized for his service and leadership as the DANCON tank detachment commander.
“The soldiers performed very well during our time here,” said Pedersen. “They all worked hard and have been very dedicated and committed to our job, but it is going to be wonderful to get back home. It is also kind of sad because we’ve given and sacrificed so much during the deployments to Afghanistan, and the relationships and friends we’ve made with the other countries and services, it is sad to have to say goodbye, but it is good to be going home.”
The ceremony concluded with the Danish flag being marched away to be packed for the journey home, symbolizing Denmark’s mission in Afghanistan had come to an end.