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U.S. Commander Condemns Attacks on Kosovo Force

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2011 – A senior U.S. military leader in Europe condemned recent violence against NATO troops in Kosovo just as a Wisconsin Army National Guard unit prepares to take command of the 15th rotation of peacekeeping forces there.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Georgia National Guard soldiers stack behind a wall during training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Nov. 9, 2011. National Guard soldiers from several states -- including the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade -- are part of the KFOR 15 rotation preparing to deploy to Kosovo in upcoming months. U.S. Army photo by Lynn Davis

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, visited Pristina, Kosovo, today to assess the situation a day after attacks by Serb demonstrators wounded more than two dozen NATO Kosovo Force members. No U.S. troops were wounded in the clashes.

The attacks occurred after the KFOR troops removed blockades that had shut off a main road in northern Kosovo.

“The use of violence against KFOR troops is unacceptable,” Locklear said in a statement released today. “We urge all parties to exercise restraint and cooperate fully with all international actors on the ground to ensure freedom of movement without delay.”

Locklear reiterated NATO’s mandate in Kosovo under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244: to help maintain a safe and secure environment. This, he said, includes ensuring freedom of movement.

KFOR entered Kosovo in June 1999 under the U.N. mandate in the face of mounting ethnic conflict between Federal Republic of Yugoslavia military forces and Kosovo Liberation Army members. At the height of the mission, 39 nations were contributing about 50,000 troops to the mission.

About 180 members of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade are now preparing to assume authority for the next KFOR rotation in December. They will serve as the brigade headquarters unit for Multinational Battle Group East, also known as Task Force Falcon. In that role, the 157th will oversee operations for the entire Multinational Battle Group East.

The group includes National Guard and Reserve soldiers from Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia, Nebraska, Vermont, North Dakota, New Jersey, Wyoming, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. It also includes international forces from Armenia, Greece, Poland, Turkey, Romania and the Ukraine.

To prepare for the mission, the KFOR 15 troops trained in realistic scenarios at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and most recently, at U.S. Army Europe’s Joint Multinational Training Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

“It’s a three-pronged mission,” Army Col. Jeffrey Liethen, the KFOR 15 commander, said during training at the Camp Atterbury Joint Training Center in October. “We monitor the pulse of the populace, so to speak, keeping track of the feelings and opinions of the people. We also act as third responders to demonstrations and riots, and maintain freedom of movement for other KFOR forces.”

Observer-controllers at both training sites strived to make the training as realistic as possible, he said, based on tactics, techniques and procedures taking place on the ground.

“Early on in our training, the focus was on a relatively steady state and calm environment in Kosovo,” Liethen said earlier this month at Hohenfels.

“Things have drastically changed,” he said. “It’s very obvious that the training program here at Hohenfels has been modified to replicate what is actually going on in Kosovo right now so that will definitely be a help in us conducting our mission.”


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Related Sites:
NATO Kosovo Force

Related Articles:
Wisconsin Guard Troops Get Realistic Kosovo Training in Germany
Wisconsin National Guard Unit Trains for Kosovo Mission


Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

11/30/2011 7:52:04 AM
Since 1999 over 200,000 non-Albanians have been driven out of Kosovo. Very few have returned. Kosovo's cities are now nearly mono-ethnic Albanian and the Serbs in Southern Kosovo survive mostly in mono-ethnic enclaves. Even there harassment like of destruction of crops, sabotage and theft is such that many leave to make an income elsewhere. Locklear cannot be serious when he claims that bringing the Northern Serbs – including 20,000 exiles from the South - under this type of rule should be explained as "to help maintain a safe and secure environment". The opposite is true.
- Wim Roffel, NL

11/30/2011 1:30:06 AM
These Serbians are just protecting their homes as any red-blooded American would. These are ordinary people who are just protecting themselves from being ethnically cleansed. The US forces need to be given instructions to protect the Serbs.
- Betty Johnston, Kosovska Mitrovica

11/29/2011 9:46:47 PM
Well, well, fancy of the U.S. commander to condemn the (so-called) attacks against KFOR. Where was that commander in 1999 to condemn US-NATO who were attacking (via bomging) a sovereign country, via phony pretexts for doing so? Back then the law of the jungle sufficed. Surely, the commander knows that the whole 1999 merciless bombing exercise was about installing USA's Camp Bondsteel in Serbia's Kosovo province. And, as well, NATO was at loose ends after the demise of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. So, USA got Camp Bondsteel and NATO re-invented itself into an attack force. How many US military bases is that all across the planet? How very pathetic to condemn a people who want nothing more than to live in peace in circumstances where they're not under occupation by NATO or by NATO's allies, extremist Albanian Muslims.
- Liz, Canada

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