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Departure from Iraq is being prepared

Although various alternatives for the withdrawal of the Slovak contingent from Iraq are already being prepared, changes in the process of selection and training of troops for the mission in Iraq have not yet been made.

"In principle, while one unit is serving on a mission, a second unit is preparing for the mission and the selection is underway for a third," Slovak Army spokesman Milan Vanga told the SITA news agency.

The financial costs of training, which include fuel costs, ammunition, food, etc, amount to about Sk5 million for the 110 soldiers of the unit, or about Sk45,500 per soldier.

Training of professional soldiers for participation in a foreign mission covers basic training, which all soldiers must undergo, followed by specific training that includes adaptation to climatic conditions in the region of deployment along with legal aspects aimed specifically at the mission.

The final part of the preparation is a training exercise to test the preparedness of the unit for the mission by creating conditions similar to those that the soldiers will find in real life. It culminates with a specialised tactical exercise.

Last week the General Staff of the Slovak Army received an order to prepare for the withdrawal of Slovak troops from Iraq, Defense Minister František Kašický said.

Kašický however emphasized that the withdrawal will not take place "overnight" and that Slovakia wants to continue helping the government of Iraq. The Slovak armed forces should participate in the training of Iraqi armed corps. A decision where such training would be organised has not yet been made.

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