COS Col Martin Alvarez Medal Parade 05 March 2021

5 Mar 2021

COS Col Martin Alvarez Medal Parade 05 March 2021

On 05 March 2021, the Deputy Force Commander Brigadier General Maureen O'Brien presented the Chief Of Staff Col Martin Alvarez with his UN Service Medal. Having arrived in the Golan Heights in January 2020, Col Alvarez has served a distinguished Tour of Duty in UNDOF, demonstrating exceptional leadership, guidance and friendship to those he worked with over the past 14 months. 

"Ma-am, Bernie, colleagues, comrades, thank you for sharing your time on this occasion. Your presence graces the day and fills me with pride.

I believe that a soldier should never ask for recognition for his effort, nor should depend on recognition to stay committed to its mission. However, it is always good for the combat morale of a soldier, to receive the warm recognition of his colleagues and comrades, like on this occasion, through this medal that represents one of the most emblematic and long-lived missions of the Department of Peace Operations, and whose Area of Responsibility includes the most challenging operational environment in terms of geography and climate where blue helmets operates around the globe.

14 months ago, I embarked in Montevideo full of dreams, expectations and above all, plans. Us, soldiers, we must take advantage of any occasion to put theoretical knowledge into practice in scenarios away from the undesirable chaos of war, for which our profession prepares us. I was aware that I was going to occupy a position that had been occupied for 46 years already, which is why, as we say in Uruguay, I didn’t come to invent the wheel, the wheel had already been invented a long time ago.

Nevertheless, I arrived with the hope of being able to make a difference, however humble, trying to leave a positive mark on UNDOF. In addition, on the advice of my predecessor, I brought my Class A Uniform to attend formal events properly dressed. A month after taking office, the reality was overwhelming, and we found ourselves facing an absolutely unexpected scenario. Today I can proudly say that I formed part of a working team that proved having the flexibility and the necessary adaptability to continue fulfilling the mandate despite all the changes that reality imposed on us.  

By the way, my class A uniform is still waiting for the opportunity.

At this time, if I may, I want to give two pieces of advice: travel light and always be physically and mentally prepared to deal with something different from your plans, not allowing hazy circumstances to affect your professional capacity. We have proven that we are an organization with strong learning skills.  A group of men and women who were able to remain solid, first being resilient when there were more questions than answers, and then accepting that several restrictions would affect our daily lives and comfort without diminishing our commitment towards the mission.

I have been away from home for 14 months, away from my loved ones. I am happy finally returning to the calm of my affections. At the same time, after the intense tour I have lived on the Golan Heights, I know that I am going to miss the people, the aromas, the landscapes of UNDOF, which have become part of my life.

I wish you that when the time comes for you to go home you experience the same contradiction on feelings. That will mean that you didn't waste a year of your life here. Try to live the experience, do not just cross out days in an almanac. Do not miss the opportunity to know the way of understanding the world of other people. Taste their food, no matter how spicy, enjoy their music, share their costumes. Don’t attend your daily duties without making your bed and say good morning every day.

That’s the best starting point for success.

Tell your stories, show your family photos and meet those of your comrades. If COVID has given us something good, it is that it does not give us many plans B. Take advantage of each occasion to share time with your colleagues. If you go back home and you didn’t make new friends here, you just wasted your time.

I am glad to say that I didn’t waste mine.

Do not trance with excuses to allow yourself not to give your best contribution to the collective effort. Your tour of duty will be just as long, but the satisfaction of a job well done will make the time much more pleasant. Don't defy the rules but challenge and support leadership with your best professional and sincere assessment. And when judging decisions, be fair and make an effort to put yourself in the shoes and circumstances of whoever had to take those decisions.

Now ending, I want to thank you for having had the opportunity and the privilege to serve in UNDOF with this group of professionals who have dedicated part of their lives in pursuit of a noble cause. The world is getting smaller, we have made it smaller. I am sure we will have the opportunity one day to remember the good old times we served together in UNDOF.

Ma-am, Bernie, colleagues, comrades, THIS IS NINER BRAVO, OUT."

All of the troops, commanders and staff in UNDOF wish Col Martin Alvarez and his MA Capt Conrado Martinez all of the very best in their future careers.

More pictures can be found here.