SHAPE Considers Troop Needs for Kosovo Force
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 6, 2000 Military authorities at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe are assessing whether NATO's Kosovo Force is adequate for its peacekeeping mission.
Adm. Craig Quigley told Pentagon reporters April 4 that KFOR officials have forwarded a troop-to-task analysis to SHAPE headquarters in Mons, Belgium. He said he had no details on that analysis, however.
"It's still at SHAPE and they're taking a look at it first before they go out to the nations," Quigley said.
If more troops are required, he said, NATO would ask its 19 member nations and other participating countries to contribute troops to the peacekeeping operation. Each nation would assess its internal capabilities and limitations and respond accordingly.
The United States has set a force cap of 7,000 service members for the Kosovo mission. Currently, 5,900 U.S. troops serve in Kosovo, 450 serve in Macedonia and 10 support the mission from Greece.
Quigley said the United States is in the process of redeploying unmanned aerial vehicles, Hunters to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Predators to Bosnia. Military officials removed the reconnaissance aircraft from the region last fall due to weather conditions.
"The Predators will be at KFOR's disposal," Quigley said, "with the Hunter being at the disposal of the American commander, Brig. Gen. (Ricardo) Sanchez."
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen signed deployment orders Mar. 29 to send more U.S. reconnaissance and armor assets to support the peacekeeping operations. Sanchez, Task Force Falcon commander, requested a long-range reconnaissance company be deployed to Kosovo and that armored equipment be sent for a 1st Armored Division company already deployed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
A 125-member reconnaissance company from V Corps in Germany is slated to deploy for about six months to patrol the border area between the U.S. sector and the adjoining Presevo Valley area in Serbia. Fourteen tanks are to link up with a company from the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armored Brigade, 1st Armored Division, already deployed at Camp Able Sentry in Skopje, FYROM.
In addition, six M-109 Paladin self-propelled 155mm howitzers are going to soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Division in Skopje.
Pentagon officials said U.S. military leaders concluded the additional assets would be "prudent." With the approach of spring, they said, NATO officials expect an increase in activity among Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
A clash April 4 between Kosovar Serbs and NATO peacekeepers left 11 Americans and one Pole injured. The most serious injury reported was a broken hand, a Pentagon spokesman said. U.S. troops also received contusions and abrasions during the incident.
According to U.S. officials, the trouble started after American military police and Polish soldiers seized two hand grenades in a Serb house in a village about 40 miles south of Pristina. About 150 Serbs surrounded the house and refused to allow the troops to leave. The confrontation lasted about eight hours before the crowd dispersed, a DoD spokesman said.
Yugoslav news reports said several thousand Serbs gathered near roadblocks set up by Polish troops serving in the American sector after the NATO peacekeepers detained the Serb houseowner for illegal weapons possession.