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U.S. troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy, along with Bosnian (L) and Bulgarian (R) soldiers meet with actors playing Afghan village leaders during training exercises

Multinational troops prepare for Afghan deployment.

Unity Through Training

July 2012, Number 03.03

“Sgt. Maj. Vladimir Smilianov was patrolling a dusty Afghan lane when his unit was confronted by an unarmed but irate villager complaining about the presence of coalition troops. “You are in my village,” the Afghan raged. “You don’t tell me where I can go.” Then Smilianov, a 20-year Bulgarian army veteran with a shaved head and the barrel chest of a wrestler, observed something he didn’t want to observe: A soldier in his unit started apologizing profusely to the Afghan civilian.

Wrong. All Wrong.

Fortunately for all parties concerned, Smilianov and his counterparts were engaged in a multinational simulation in the rolling hills of central Germany meant to mimic the atmosphere of a real Afghan deployment. The village was a reproduction, the Afghan an impersonator. The way Smilianov saw it, his American training partner provoked the Afghan by entering the village with his rifle leveled menacingly but forfeited his authority by apologizing too much after the fact...”

Excerpt from per Concordiam Staff, “Unity Through Training,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 3, No. 3, 2012: 44-47.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.