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Cohen Deploys Recon Troops, Armored Vehicles to Kosovo

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2000 – Defense Secretary William S. Cohen signed deployment orders March 29 to send reconnaissance and armor assets to support operations in Kosovo.

Army Brig. Gen. Ricardo S. 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 without armor in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

U.S. and NATO leaders agreed the additional assets would be "prudent augmentations," Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon told reporters Mar. 30. With the approach of spring and an expected increase in activity among Serbs and ethnic Albanians, he said, NATO officials are analyzing whether the Kosovo Force has enough troops to complete its tasks.

"If KFOR recommends more troops to meet the task, then SHAPE would set out a revised statement of requirement of some sort for the troops," he said.

The United States has set a force cap of 7,000 service members for the mission, Bacon noted. Currently, there are 5,900 U.S. troops in Kosovo, 450 in Macedonia and 10 in Greece supporting the mission.

A reconnaissance company from V Corps in Germany to will give Sanchez "more eyes and ears," Bacon said. The company of about 125 soldiers will deploy for about six months to patrol the border area between the U.S. sector and the adjoining Presevo Valley area in Serbia, he said.

Fourteen tanks are slated to link up with a company from 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor, 1st Armored Division, already deployed at Camp Able Sentry in Skopje, FYROM. Bacon said this will allow the unit to continue training with their equipment and provide more force protection. In addition, six Paladin 155 mm artillery pieces are going to soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Division in Skopje.

It will also "serve as a deterrent to any mischief that might take place along the borders of Macedonia," he said. The reconnaissance troops will work in conjunction with additional unmanned aerial vehicles being deployed to the region, he said. If the Hunter and Predator UAVs see activity along the border, these foot soldiers will investigate.

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