News: 504th BFSB cases colors for Kosovo deployment
Story by Sgt. Cody Barber
FORT HOOD, Texas - The 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade cased their colors in a ceremony at Ready Field on West Fort Hood, Jan. 8, for an upcoming deployment to Kosovo in support of Operation Joint Guardian.
The brigade will deploy 500 soldiers from the 2d Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment and the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
This is the first time the 504th BFSB has deployed in support of this mission, and will be replacing the 525th BFSB out of Fort Bragg, N.C. The brigade will be joined by National Guard soldiers from the 35th Infantry Division, who have been training on North Fort Hood since their arrival in early December.
“All of these soldiers conducted their individual and small unit training here at Fort Hood, supported by soldiers from First Army Division West, East and observer controllers from Germany,” said Col. Charles Hensley, 504th commander. “After several months of challenging training, learning new tasks, and forming new teams, the soldiers who will be part of Multinational Battle Group East stand ready to deploy in support of Operation Joint Guardian.”
Consisting of nearly 1,500 troops from nine different countries, MNBG-E will be commanded by the “Always Ready” brigade after taking over from the 525th. Kosovo Forces will be working with the United Nations and European Union to support a healthy and peaceful development of Kosovo.
“The challenge for those deploying is that we must maintain the current safe and secure environment in Kosovo,” said Hensley. “We must be prepared to conduct operations to prevent any deterioration of that environment and improve that environment so that someday the people of Kosovo no longer need NATO forces’ assistance and so that the Government of Kosovo is able to stand independently in the international area.”
Hensley went on to describe that while Kosovo isn’t as dangerous as other deployable locations, Soldiers and their families are still making sacrifices.
“Deployment is never easy,” said Hensley. “We take some comfort that the operational environment in Kosovo is stable and isn’t nearly as dangerous as other locations in which soldiers serve, but that doesn’t make the missed anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, report cards, summer vacation, and just missing out on normal family activities any easier to accept for the soldiers or their families.”
Operation Joint Guardian is a mission that started in Kosovo, June 12, 1999, to provide peace support operations. For 15 years, service members have deployed supporting KFOR.
“In 1999, many may not have seen how the Kosovo mission would evolve over time, but our challenge today is to continue the mission started in 1999,” said Hensley. “We will continue to carry it on to victory; not so much for ourselves but for the people of Kosovo and to honor the service and sacrifice of the tens of thousands of soldiers who served before us.”