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    Squad leader reflects on Silver Saber exercise



    Story by Capt. Kevin Sandell 

    Multinational Battle Group - East (KFOR)

    CAMP NOVO SELO, Kosovo -- With bottles and Molotov cocktails being thrown at his squad by an unruly crowd to his front, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dan Cisneros knew the chaos and confusion experienced during the simulated riot event would actually benefit his Soldiers as responders with Kosovo Force.

    The 26-year-old noncommissioned officer from Round Rock, Texas, who serves with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, participated in the Silver Saber event, May 14-16, as a squad leader during the three-day exercise. Silver Saber is the annual training operation held at Camp Vrelo, Kosovo, to test the Kosovo Police, European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo and Kosovo Force responders in a large-scale crowd riot control event.

    “Having an opposing force is essential to the [crowd riot control] training piece,” said Cisneros. “Having those rioters pushing on the shields and throwing various objects at the CRC elements allows the guys to feel the effects of a riot.”

    Pitted against multinational role-players from various entities, the responders must react vigilantly even when facing unknown threats, including fires, projectiles, and large manmade obstacles. For Cisneros and his subordinate soldiers, the opportunity to face their fears in events like fire phobia training, led to learned techniques for responding to a real riot.

    “Fire phobia training is a great training tool for our soldiers. It is not natural to allow someone to intentionally set you on fire,” Cisneros said. “But it allowed our soldiers, especially our junior enlisted who form the majority of our front shield line, the techniques they can use to react to the use of incendiary devices that mean to harm them.”

    Cisneros, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan deployments, added many of the squadron’s seasoned NCOs needed to rehearse the techniques to respond to a crowd riot control event. Reacting to a civil disruption is different than the warfare skills used in combat theaters.

    “I think for a majority of our NCOs transitioning to CRC techniques was difficult at first, because most of our leadership is accustomed to the techniques we have been using for years in Iraq and Afghanistan. It did not take long to pick up the movements and formations, because we are all used to drill and ceremony, so it was not a dramatic change to have an element move on line,” Cisneros continued.

    Working with multinational partners like the Slovenian and Portuguese armies, the squadron conducted several lead-up exercises to Silver Saber, allowing the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities to the collective group.

    Arriving by helicopter to the riot control event, the squadrons junior Soldiers experienced an adrenaline rush like none before. Cisneros said many of them had not yet ridden onboard a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, and landing on the scene of a large crowd control event surged that feeling even more.

    The Silver Saber exercise sent a valuable message not only to KFOR Soldiers, but also to the people of Kosovo, Cisneros said. Working towards peace in the region is ultimately what Kosovo Force and NATO elements are expecting to accomplish.

    “I think the most important part of being a soldier in KFOR is understanding not only does our presence here have a positive impact on Kosovo, it also helps to strengthen the bond we have with our [Multinational Battle Group-East] allies,” Cisneros said. “Working with so many nations allows us to ensure that not only are we ensuring peace in Kosovo, but we are helping to strengthen the agreement of peace we have with our allies.”



    Date Taken: 05.16.2014
    Date Posted: 05.28.2014 09:52
    Story ID: 131295
    Location: CAMP NOVO SELO, ZZ
    Hometown: ROUND ROCK, TX, US

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