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Jun 24 2022

Sergeant Shaban X.: I feel proud of the work I do to secure the lives of my NATO colleagues

Sergeant Shaban Xhafaj of the Albanian Army, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal operator, enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia*

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SGT Xhafaj in his Advanced Bomb Suit (ABS) / Photo by SFC Alfonso Pinilla Cortés

This is me

My name is Sergeant Shaban Xhafaj, and I joined the military at age of 19. I am now a 26-year-old Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operator with the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup in Latvia. Back home, I am part of the Albanian Land Forces' engineering battalion. In 2017, I deployed to Latvia as part of the Albanian contingent's first mission in Latvia. I went on to deploy as part of the eFP Battlegroup in 2019. This year will be my third time in Latvia.
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SGT Xhafaj has already served with NATO's eFP in Latvia twice / Photo by SFC Alfonso Pinilla Cortés
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SGT Xhafaj operates a device meant to neutralize and destroy unexploded ordnance / Photo by SFC Alfonso Pinilla Cortés 

This is my task

As an EOD operator, I work with a team to find and neutralize unexploded ordnance in the training area and operational zone in order to remove the risks it poses to the members of the Battlegroup. It is a risky job but I feel proud of the work I do to secure the lives of my NATO colleagues.

This is what makes my job special

Working as part of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Latvia has made me realize just how big the NATO family is.

It has been interesting getting to know service members from other countries, and exchanging experiences, cultures and traditions with them. I am proud to serve with the Battlegroup here in Latvia, and I am happy to devote my life to my country and to the NATO mission.

These are my plans

When I return to Albania, the thing I am most looking forward to the most is being a father for the very first time. My child will be born while I am deployed. In my free time I enjoy training CrossFit and riding motorcycles.
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During his deployment in Latvia, SGT Xhafaj—who is an avid crossfitter—kept in shape at the Camp Ādaži military gym / Photo by SFC Alfonso Pinilla Cortés

* This article was written in autumn 2021 during SGT Xhafaj's deployment to Latvia.

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office

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