Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bronze Star ‘Valor’ Medal for Risso

Gibraltarian Colin Risso, a Major with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, has been awarded ‘The Bronze Star with Valor Medal’ by the American Forces whilst serving in Afghanistan.

Major Risso was one of two UK staff officers working alongside the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - 76. His tour of duty in Afghanistan was for a period of six and a half months from August 2004 to February 2005. The medal was presented to him for gallantry in action for his personal courage and commitment to mission accomplishment in a combat zone, under the most extreme circumstances, which greatly contributed to the success of operation ‘Enduring Freedom’.

The Bronze Star certificate acknowledges that, “Major Risso’s uncommon valor and outstanding performance of duty reflects great credit upon himself, the Combined/Joint Task Force – 76, and the United States Central Command.”

He was presented with the medal by Major General Eric Olsen, Divisional Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force – 76.

During his time in Afghanistan, Major Risso, was responsible for all division civil military operational planning for the American troops in Afghanistan. He was serving as a chief, future plans officer, with his primary role ensuring that civil and military operations remained coherent, and engulfed the general policy of developing Afghanistan as a nation. This meant reconstruction, developing and augmenting the security apparatus of Afghanistan and helping to develop the Afghan army, police, schools, clinics, medical systems, and everything which helped to enhance the effectiveness of the Afghan government.

As a British officer, he pointed out, he was treated with the greatest respect by his fellow American colleagues. His job also involved working with different organisations such as the United Nations, Afghan ministries and institutions, NGOs, US Department of State, working in Afghanistan.

“As the military we had a lot of interface with the various groups, and worked together with them. It was an extremely interesting line of work in a country where the military and all organisations are working to rebuild Afghanistan with all the things that a government needs to give its people quality of life and a sense of nationhood.”

Major Risso was serving in Afghanistan during the first democratic election in its 5000 year history were held there last year, with the inauguration of the first president in December.

Major Risso has toured Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and spent time in Argentina where he undertook his United Nations Observers Course.

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