News: Kosovo force removes concrete barricades in Rudare
Story by Sgt. Angela Parady
RUDARE, Kosovo - Soldiers from Multinational Battle Group East, Kosovo Force removed concrete barricades from the Pristina –Raska road near Rudare in the early hours of Jan. 31.
“We are out here to restore freedom of movement,” said Cpt. Ben Thornton, commander of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, from the South Carolina National Guard. “Currently, the road is blocked. We want to reduce the obstacle so that people and traffic can move freely.”
The obstacle included three large concrete blocks, tree trunks, and other large debris that stopped traffic moving along one side of the road. The one-way road posed a safety hazard for people who live in the area and travel the route.
The effort to remove the obstacles was a well-coordinated, well-executed mission among the many nations that support the KFOR mission. Soldiers from the Polish, French, German, Moroccan, Turkish, and Armenian armies worked together with American troops to move several trucks’ worth of debris from the road to reopen the route to all traffic. They were able to remove everything within two hours.
KFOR worked throughout the night to get into position and to complete the task before daybreak. Cranes and heavy construction equipment were brought in so that the engineering team could get the concrete barriers out of the road. Thornton said the concentrated effort to complete this work during the night hours was not only for the safety of the soldiers but so that the work on the road would cause as little a disruption to the local population.
“Working at night, there is less of a threat to our soldiers, there are less people on the road, less traffic,” said Thornton. “It is safer for both the soldiers, and the population.”
The barricades had been set up several days ago. During the hours the soldiers worked, very few locals were held up at the control points set at either end of the work area. Those that needed to get through in order to conduct business, return home or get to their work were allowed access after being identified.
Safety of the soldiers and the local population was a major priority to this mission. Throughout the mission, communication helped ensure that everyone knew where the heavy equipment was operating, where the soldiers were, and where the locals were.
“This is what we have been trained to do,” said Thornton. “We coordinated and executed a multinational effort on short notice to move into position, remove the obstacles and complete this mission professionally and efficiently.”
Sgt. 1st Class Donnie Henderson, second platoon sergeant for Bravo Company was pleased with the overall mission. He said his team acted professionally, did their jobs, and the mission went a lot smoother than he expected.
“This went very well. It was a job that needed to be done,” said Henderson. “Our mission here is to ensure freedom of movement for all of the people of Kosovo. We can’t allow [anyone] to stop that freedom.”