Portuguese soldiers return home after six months in Afghanistan

A force of 113 Portuguese soldiers arrived in Lisbon today after six months to secure security at Kabul airport in Afghanistan on a mission whose main difficulty was “the routine” and “managing the emotional state” of the military.

“The main difficulty we had was the routine” and “trying to manage the emotional state of each military”, who are confined in the same space during all the time to perform the same tasks without being able to leave, told the journalists the commander of 2. The contingent, major of infantry Ricardo Estrela.

The military that today landed at the Figo Maduro military airport in Lisbon belongs to the Army Mechanized Brigade and integrated the 2nd Portuguese contingent as an Immediate Reaction Force into the NATO mission in Afghanistan, which totals 189 elements.

The third contingent, which started at the weekend, included for the first time a group of 12 special operations elements, including Army and Navy personnel, who will provide advice and training to the Afghan armed and security forces.

At today’s reception ceremony, the Minister of National Defense, João Gomes Cravinho, thanked the military’s commitment to the “successful” mission, despite the “difficult context”.

“The aim is to create conditions for the political forces in Afghanistan to have the necessary stability to find the political balance, the consensus and also the infrastructure in terms of state institutions so that Afghanistan does not need this international support,” he said, admitting that “it will take some time”.

Upon arrival at Figo Maduro, the soldiers were greeted with applause, shouts of joy and tears by the families, with whom they were a few minutes before the graduation ceremony for the official reception ceremony, attended by the Minister of National Defense, João Gomes Cravinho, and the chief of the General Staff of the Army, General Nunes da Fonseca.

The aim is for the military, through all phases, to come to that of “readaptation”. Six months after her return, psychologists assess the need for some intervention.

“If you are not [readapted], we will try to do something to help you get back into your previous life,” he said, stressing that “sometimes there are difficulties throughout this six-month emotional cycle.”

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