KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Soldiers from the 115th Military Police Battalion, a National Guard unit out of Salisbury, Md., participated in a friendly game of soccer with their international counterparts, a military police battalion from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Aug. 14.
The game, meant to increase camaraderie between the units now that their deployment is drawing to a close, was scheduled just hours before the United States men’s soccer team played the Bosnia and Herzegovina soccer team in their capital city of Sarajevo.
The Maryland National Guard is involved in the State Partnership Program, said Capt. Matthew Stuhr, a native of Columbus, Ohio, and the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment commander for 115th MP Battalion, currently deployed to Forward Operating Base Walton in Kandahar province.
For more than 10 years, Maryland has been partnered with Bosnia and Herzegovina and even deployed together.
It was an opportunity for soldiers from the 115th MP Battalion and the Bosnia and Herzegovina counterparts, who comprise Combined Task Force Chesapeake, to take part in a soccer game prior to the game in Sarajevo, said Lt. Col. Andrew Collins, 155th MP Battalion commander, and a native of Salisbury, Md.
“We are taking this opportunity to get the soldiers together through all the hard work and missions they have done over the past seven months,” Collins said.
Bosnian 1st Lt. Emir Basic, a native of Goražde, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the officer in charge of the weapons cell for his 26-soldier element.
Though he played a little soccer growing up, he admits that none of his fellow soldiers are professional players.
“Some of us played in primary school and high school,” said Basic. “But it is not important who wins. It is a good event for building the team and having fun.”
After the local match, which the Bosnians won, all of the soldiers watched the match together on American Forces Network at the USO. The United States won that game 4-3.
“I am proud of my soldiers because we have done a good job here,” said Bosnian Capt. Marinko Ronic. “We started our partnership with the Maryland National Guard 10 years ago and we are almost done (with) our mission.”
Overall, the two matches helped build an even stronger bond between the international counterparts.
“We consider the soldiers our friends,” said Collins. “It is quite a mutual and really good relationship with them.”