By Capt. Matthew Roman
| 11th Theater Aviation Command | March 28, 2016
Brig. Gen. Scott Morcomb, Commanding General of the 11th Theater Aviation Command (TAC), greets his soldiers returning from an 11-month deployment to Kosovo in support of NATO’s KFOR mission, Mar. 7, 2016. The 11th TAC has deployed units to Kosovo over the last several years in support of this mission of establishing a safe and secure environment for the people of Kosovo. (U.S. Army Photo by Capt. Matthew Roman, 11th Theater Aviation Command Public Affairs Officer) (Photo by Capt. Matthew Roman)
Over the past several years of U.S. Army involvement
in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, one peace-support operation in Kosovo
still holds great significance for the U.S. Army. That mission is the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Kosovo Force (KFOR) mission. NATO has
been leading a peace-support operation in Kosovo since June of 1999 and it was
established when NATO’s famed, 78-day air campaign against Milosevic’s regime,
aimed at putting an end to violence in Kosovo, was over.
Some of KFOR’s original objectives were to deter
renewed hostilities, establish a secure environment and ensure public safety
and order, demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army, support the international
humanitarian effort and coordinate with the international civil presence.
KFOR continues to contribute towards maintaining a safe and secure environment
in Kosovo and freedom of movement for all U.S. forces and their allies in the
This region, over the past couple of years, has seen
an increase in the use of a multi-component task force to help meet this
intent. Elements from the National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve, more
specifically army reserve aviation, have been involved in this peacekeeping
mission since 2014.
Units from the 11th Theater Aviation Command (TAC) has
deployed utility and aeromedical evacuation company size elements over the past
several rotations with the most recent rotation which included an 11-month
deployment of a UH-60 Blackhawk company from 7-158th Aviation Regiment based
out of Los Alamitos, Ca. and a HH-60 aeromedical evacuation company from
5-159th Aviation Regiment, based out of Clearwater, Fl.
During the span of their deployment aviators and
aircrew members from the 11th TAC were able to amass over 1500 flight hours,
conduct an actual aeromedical evacuation and forest firefighting missions, as
well as participate in several humanitarian training exercises including riot
control training exercises.
“This was a
very exciting and successful deployment which allowed my aircrew members to
participate in various humanitarian training exercises as well as two
real-world firefighting missions by way of our bambi bucket capabilities,”
added Capt. Steve Kramer, Commander of Alpha Company 2-238th Aviation Regiment.
A high percentage of the forces that made up this
aviation task force were volunteers.
“The fact that so many of my soldiers volunteered to
take time away from their families, often missing birthdays and holidays, I
feel speaks wonders about the character of those soldiers that serve alongside
of me”, added Kramer.
Several soldiers, from the 11th TAC, volunteered to
teach English to the local population as part of one the main initiatives of
strengthening relationships with the people of Kosovo.
“I am extremely proud of all of my soldiers and still
amazes me that we had soldiers volunteer to teach English to the people of
Kosovo all while still maintaining their operational requirements,” added
It is safe to say that we, at the command, are very
pleased with the accomplishments of all of our soldiers who made this mission a
success. The results of this latest rotation to Kosovo, was yet another example
of the unique set of skills that our Citizen-Soldier aircrew members bring to
table. The Citizen-Soldiers of the 11th TAC will continue to consistently
improve our craft so that when, and if, our number is called to support this
region, we will be able to bring extraordinary training and real-world value to
our allies and the people of Kosovo.