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News article

York St John University graduate honoured by NATO

Published: 16 April 2015

  •   Alumni
  •    Awards
  •    Students

He received the medal for showing exceptional leadership and personal example, and making an outstanding individual contribution. It was awarded by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and presented by Major General Alastair Dickinson last week.

Matthew said: “It is an absolute honour to be considered and presented with such an award. I am thoroughly proud of what we enabled our Afghan counterparts to achieve, and it was a privilege to serve alongside them.”

The NATO Meritorious Service Medal was first awarded in 2003 and only a small number are awarded each year to personnel from the 28 contributing NATO countries.

Matthew, 31, studied Psychology at York St John University between 2003 and 2005 before commissioning from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2006. He lives in Heworth with his wife and two daughters.

Matthew is the sixth consecutive member of his family to serve in the Armed Forces and has completed operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On his second tour of Afghanistan in 2013 Matthew was working as the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) Development Officer – a role that involved mentoring and advising the division of the ANA that commanded the Engineer and Counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) units. During his deployment the advisor units were under constant threat from insurgents attempting to disrupt their progress.

His citation states that Matthew played a vital role in providing enduring security across Afghanistan, adding “Major Teeling energised the ANA and set the standard in all areas of ANA development. His tremendous efforts facilitated a direct supporting relationship with all Engineer Advisor Teams in an effort to identify critical developmental shortcoming. Without question Major Teeling provided a lasting effect on the institutional development of the 215th Corps [division of the ANA].”

Up until 2014 the ANA had relied upon coalition forces for key resources. Major Teeling analysed existing processes before tutoring his ANA counterparts in a sustainable procurement model. This model was briefed to the Afghanistan Ministry of Defence who implemented it across the Afghanistan National Army.

The citation concludes by remarking: “This resulted in the ANA procuring resources in 2014, a vital achievement enabling them to be well placed for the fighting season and elections.”

Major Teeling said he enjoyed his time at York St John University fondly and believes his course benefitted his role within the British Army.

He said: “I had a fantastic three years at York St John. I met some amazing people, some of whom are now life-long friends. The lecturers and support staff within the Psychology department, and indeed wider campus, were excellent. They were always proactive, approachable and engaging. The resources available to students on campus were second to none.

“Psychology relates to so many elements of command and leadership, whether it be through leading and motivating our personnel on operations or training and developing our soldiers throughout their career progression. This all relates to theories, studies and models within both developmental and behavioural Psychology.

“In my role as an advisor and mentor to senior members of the Afghanistan National Army I was able to utilise some of the basic models within developmental Psychology in order to engender a culture of continuous improvement and professional development.”

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