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Kosovo Mission Successful, Important, U.S. Forces Say
American Forces Press Service ^ | Aug. 15, 2005 | By Terri Lukach

Posted on 08/16/2005 8:17:15 PM PDT by mark502inf

WASHINGTON, – While U.S. forces have been defending freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, another mission to protect local populations from brutality and oppression has been winding down in the Balkans. That mission holds important lessons for operations currently under way in Iraq, U.S. forces in Kosovo say. In 1999, 38,000 NATO forces were in Kosovo to establish and maintain a secure environment, enforce compliance with agreements that ended a campaign of ethnic cleansing by former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and provide assistance to the U.N. Mission in Kosovo. Today, there are less than 18,000 multinational troops on the ground, of which 1,800 are Americans.

Maintaining security is still high on the list of mission priorities for the NATO-led Kosovo Force. "We do what we call 'presence patrols,' guard certain fixed locations and conduct vehicle checkpoints, but there are few violent incidents," said Army Maj. Michael Wunn, spokesman for KFOR's Multinational Brigade East. "We also work with community leaders on a regular basis."

Wunn said the people of Kosovo are grateful for U.S. assistance. "I have never been treated as well anyplace else," he said, "particularly by the Kosovar Albanians. They are very respectful, very appreciative that we are here. When we walk down the street, we receive very kind greetings and gestures. It's heartwarming as an American to feel that appreciation."

Sgt. Jason Lembright, a Kansas Army National Guardsman assigned to Task Force Tornado agreed, saying, "All of them -- Albanian, Serb, Kosovar -- they are all friendly and polite. They invite us into their homes; they offer us coffee and are really respectful. They ask about our families back home. They are genuinely good people overall," he said.

The U.S. has three facilities in Kosovo: a forward operating base, which will close by the end of this month; Camp Bondsteel, one of the largest base camps in Europe, and Camp Montieth.

California's 40th Infantry or "Sunburst" Division is currently in charge of the mission. The unit deployed to Kosovo in March 2005, taking over from the outgoing 38th Infantry Division, based in Indiana. The two maneuver battalions, as well as headquarters personnel, are also part of the 40th ID, which includes include elements from Ohio, Indiana, Kansas and Pennsylvania. All are Army National Guardsmen. -SNIP- "We make contacts, attend meetings, such as security meetings or minority meetings, and work to resolve problems with the local population. Because we wear no body armor and carry only 9 mm weapons, we look more approachable," he added. Army Brig. Gen. William Wade commands all U.S. forces in Kosovo, with the exception of headquarters personnel, and also commands Multinational Brigade East. He is one of a new breed of National Guard generals commanding U.S. forces abroad.

"In many respects, the National Guard is tailor-made for the type of peacekeeping mission currently under way in Kosovo," Wade said. "Here, we are in the business of facilitating a safe and secure environment so government and nongovernmental organizations can build or rebuild the infrastructure in Kosovo. What I've just described is military support to civilian authorities, and that is really the forte of the National Guard of the United States."

He noted that guardsmen fill these roles for state governors throughout the United States. "So when we bring the National Guard and Army Reserve here, with all of our civilian-acquired skill sets, this really is a mission that is perfect for us," Wade said.

"I have a lawyer, a judge, a chief of police, firemen, civil engineers, a deputy attorney general -- you name it -- and we have the skill sets that allow us to talk one on one with people from all walks of life here. And that is something that our (active) Army counterparts could not necessarily do because their experience is strictly military," Wade said.

KFOR also works to promote a shared sense of community between the various ethic populations to lessen the potential for strife.

For example, two American and two Greek soldiers and an interpreter recently took a group of Albanian, Serb, Turkish and other ethnic minority children on a camping trip for two nights. "It was a great bonding experience," Lembright said.

Wade had similar stories of his own. "We had a children's choir here the other night to entertain us, a combination of U.S. kids and Kosovar kids. I don't know about anyone else," Wade said, "but when I look into the eyes of these kids, I see same thing that I see when I look into my son's eyes or my granddaughter's eyes -- that yearning, that wanting to know, 'What does the future hold for me?'

Wade said that, as in Iraq, the work America is doing in the Balkans is important.

"We're trying to bring democracy, peace and security to troubled lands. And there is no doubt in my mind that we are making difference. I do believe that if we were not here, this situation would degenerate, go back to what it was. Even though the Serbian population is very small, if the international peacekeeping force pulled out, it would create a vacuum, and extremists would fill that void," Wade said.

"Our mission of providing a safe and secure environment, of helping the transition to civilian authority is meeting with great success. There is a lot to be done, things are still bubbling under the surface. There is still some inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic tension. We're not going to fix in six to 10 years what has been bubbling for decades. But as far as our mission goes, it's definitely been a success."

He said there are many reasons for that success. "One of them is the American flag patch we wear on our shoulders; it garners a great deal of respect," Wade said. "We are well-liked, well-respected, and very much considered saviors here. People know that American forces will do what is right and that we will do it fairly. They might not always get what they want, but they know we will be honest, fair and forthright in dealing with everybody."

The troops under his command seemed to agree. "The mission in Kosovo is important because everyone deserves the opportunity to live in a democratic society, to do more than just survive," Lembright said. "I think it's good that the U.S. wants to help them so that whether they are an Albanian, a Serb, or a Kosovar, they don't have to live in fear, but can just go about their lives."

Wunn agreed, too. "Sometimes we feel like the forgotten mission," he said. "But Kosovo is important because eventually this is where Afghanistan and Iraq will be when they reach the point of stability."


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: balkans; bushsuccess; kfor; kosovo; nationalguard; nato
the people of Kosovo are grateful for U.S. assistance. "I have never been treated as well anyplace else," he said, "particularly by the Kosovar Albanians. They are very respectful, very appreciative that we are here. When we walk down the street, we receive very kind greetings and gestures. It's heartwarming as an American to feel that appreciation."

Matches my experiences exactly--never in my long military career was I treated as well as in the Albanian-populated areas of the Balkans.

1 posted on 08/16/2005 8:17:21 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: mark502inf

WTF, is this a joke???


2 posted on 08/16/2005 8:23:36 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis

Just some factual reporting from those who are actually there. Similar to Iraq, there is quite a difference between what our troops on the ground see and experience first-hand versus what the lefties say about Iraq and what our Serb posters say about Kosovo.


3 posted on 08/16/2005 8:31:28 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis

Why would you think this is a joke? This is a more-or-less accurate depiction of what's going on in Kosovo.

Of course, I'm getting a little tired of BG Wade's claim that the National Guard is uniquely suited to the mission. The regular Army soldiers did a pretty good job of it while they were still doing that mission.


4 posted on 08/16/2005 8:31:52 PM PDT by No Longer Free State (Cultural insensitivity does not constitute torture.)
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To: mark502inf

Well, I am sure when the LaRaza types go to kick out all the Anglos in Atzlan, they too will apreciate all the help that can be done to assist them.


5 posted on 08/16/2005 8:46:51 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis
It is a joke and it's on us. Of course the "Kosovar" Albanians like American GI. You"re an unwitting accomplice in creating a greater Albania or worse, another independent Moslem state in the heart of Central Europe.
6 posted on 08/16/2005 8:51:42 PM PDT by isrul
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis
when the LaRaza types go to kick out all the Anglos in Atzlan

You can start making that analogy when US police and military head into the American southwest, fire all Hispanic local government officials and school teachers, beat & throw in jail anyone who protests, surround villages with armored forces, force the inhabitants onto buses and trains and then rob them before dropping them off at the Mexican border, loot their homes before burning them down, and murder enough in each town to facilitate cooperation by the others. When we start doing that in Texas and New Mexico and Arizona, then you'll have a good analogy with Kosovo.

7 posted on 08/16/2005 9:01:42 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis
when the LaRaza types go to kick out all the Anglos in Atzlan

You can start making that analogy when US police and military head into the American southwest, fire all Hispanic local government officials and school teachers, beat & throw in jail anyone who protests, surround villages with armored forces, force the inhabitants onto buses and trains and then rob them before dropping them off at the Mexican border, loot their homes before burning them down, and murder enough in each town to facilitate cooperation by the others. When we start doing that in Texas and New Mexico and Arizona, then you'll have a good analogy with Kosovo.

8 posted on 08/16/2005 9:03:30 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: isrul
You"re an unwitting accomplice in creating ... another independent Moslem state

Speaking of unwitting, perhaps you could explain how this "Moslem state" elected a Catholic President? Or why its laws are secular? Or why the UN reprimanded the Kosovar politicians because they wouldn't let a school girl wear an Islamic headscarf in school? I've been in real Islamic states and I've been in Kosovo. They aren't anywhere close to each other.

9 posted on 08/16/2005 9:12:34 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: mark502inf
Its own president? Its own laws? You speak of it as though it were already a sovereign state. When it is, and the foreign occupiers are gone, there will be no infidel president, the rest of the churches will be burned and it will be a Moslem state. With a majority there, now being Moslem, there will be no other outcome.
10 posted on 08/16/2005 9:34:21 PM PDT by isrul
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To: isrul
Its own president? Its own laws? You speak of it as though it were already a sovereign state

Just telling it like it is. Rugova was first elected President in 1992 after Kosovo declared independence and formed a shadow government. He was elected again in internationally supervised elections a couple years ago. As for laws, Kosovo had its own as an autonomous province for years until Milosevic rescinded that status and turned Kosovo into the equivalent of an occupied police state. Now they have their own laws again. Not sure why having laws passed at the local/province level would bother you.

Good luck with your ideas about Albanians as Islamists. Doesn't match the facts on the ground, but I don't think that's what's driving your posts.

11 posted on 08/16/2005 10:02:05 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: mark502inf

I've been in real Islamic states and I've been in Kosovo. They aren't anywhere close to each other.



Thats because real Islamic states don't have UN forces in them, keeping the rabid moslem terrorists under control. Does Syria, does Iran?


12 posted on 08/16/2005 11:20:06 PM PDT by TomasUSMC (FIGHT LIKE WW2, FINISH LIKE WW2. FIGHT LIKE NAM, FINISH LIKE NAM.)
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To: TomasUSMC
Tomas, first--your tagline is exactly right. Second, the forces in Kosovo are NATO, not UN.

Third, the Kosovars are in no way "rabid moslem terrorists", but as the troops on the ground there report, are pro-American and largely secular; as further attested to by the complete absence of attacks against the Americans in their midst. The Kosovar Albanian gun-culture is well known; they have the weapons and have frequently fought the Serbs since Serbia invaded & conquered Kosovo in 1912. If the Kosovar Albanians were anywhere near being "rabid Moslem terrorists", we'd be attacked just like Americans are whereever rabid Moslem terrorists really exist--like in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and so on.

Instead, American churches are sending their kids over to live with Kosovar Albanian families and put on combined Kosovar-American choir concerts as the general referred to in the article above.

13 posted on 08/17/2005 6:16:03 AM PDT by mark502inf
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To: mark502inf

Nonsense, the only successful campaign of any kind is the cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo.


14 posted on 08/17/2005 7:30:32 AM PDT by montyspython (Love that chicken from Popeye's)
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To: mark502inf
Moon bat comparison, that dog won't hunt with this child.

Kosovo Islamists, assisted by Albanian muslimes went into open terrorist rebellion against the Serbian government, murdering Kosovian Christian Serb civilians. The Serbs were fighting muslime terrorist creeps and responded in kind.

When the Klintoon's cigar tricks with Monica was exposed, he and old 30 m' Weasel Clark (buttressed my the usual MSM suspects) murdered thousands of Serb civilians. They then sent US troops to support Islamofacist criminal White slavers and drug lords.

IMHO, Kosovo was, and is, a Muslime cesspool of Islamist terrorist filth.

15 posted on 08/17/2005 11:27:09 AM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: mark502inf

Posting your reply twice, does not make it true.


16 posted on 08/17/2005 11:28:46 AM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis
Posting your reply twice, does not make it true.

You are right about that. It's the facts on the ground that make my post true. Instead of arguing with me, why don't you write to the U.S. soldiers quoted in the article above and tell them how wrong they have it--that from right behind your computer keyboard in the USA that you've got it all figured out. But I doubt you'd do that--your disrespect for the U.S. military is exposed in this piece of slander:

[US/NATO] murdered thousands of Serb civilians.

Human Rights Watch, a decidedly unfriendly to the US organization, came up with a range of some 488 to 527 civilian deaths caused by NATO bombing; as corroborated by the 495 deaths recorded by Serbia's own Ministry of Foreign Affairs publication “NATO Crimes in Yugoslavia”. Look at paragraph 53.

Every innocent civilian death is a tragedy, but given the total number of sorties; our Air Force, Navy, and Marine pilots did a wonderful job of hitting their designated targets while avoiding civilian casualties. Just like Saddam’s Baby Milk Factory, the Serbs were propagandizing as hard as they could to discredit our airmen and gain sympathy from the gullible.

Bottom line: what you believe is in direct contradiction to the facts and to reports coming from U.S. troops who are actually in Kosovo.

17 posted on 08/17/2005 12:07:04 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: mark502inf
I remain unconvinced by your conclusions, I have my own.

As to your anti-military garbage attributed to me? At well over three score in age and my serial number starting with RA, I don't need some clueless crap from you on that point.
18 posted on 08/17/2005 6:41:42 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis
As to your anti-military garbage attributed to me?

You're the one who said our military "murdered thousands of Serb civilians." Both untrue and clearly anti-military. Now, if you really didn't mean to say our pilots were murdering civilians and you were just mindlessly repeating Milosevic propaganda talking points, well, you're not the only one on this forum doing so. It'll be interesting, though, to see if you have the intestinal fortitude to admit your error.

19 posted on 08/17/2005 6:54:57 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: mark502inf

As I stated, 30 M' Weasel Clark and Klintoon murdered Serb civilians. Which from your perspective was a good thing, so long, as it freed up the Islamist White slavers and drug dealers to do their thing.


20 posted on 08/17/2005 7:08:20 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Ursus arctos horribilis
As I said: It'll be interesting, though, to see if you have the intestinal fortitude to admit your error.

Didn't think so.

21 posted on 08/17/2005 7:20:08 PM PDT by mark502inf
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