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NEWS | March 28, 2016

11th Theater Aviation Command Welcomes Home Citizen-Soldiers Deployed in Support of NATO’s Kosovo Mission

By Capt. Matthew Roman 11th Theater Aviation Command

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. Today, 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 region.

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 Kramer. 

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.