U.S. Commander Condemns Attacks on Kosovo Force

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.

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 to enlarge

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.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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