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    Task Force Redhawk hones response and recovery skills during Operation Poseidon

    Task Force Redhawk hones response and recovery skills during Operation Poseidon

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Duval | A UH-60 Black Hawk flight crew from Multinational Battle Group-East's Task Force...... read more read more

    GJAKOVA, Kosovo— Mother Nature can be erratic, unforgiving and even deadly.

    While many may look at this, and natural disasters, as an unmatched threat, Soldiers from the Multinational Battle Group-East’s (MNBG-E) Southern Command Post welcomed the challenge during Operation Poseidon, held in Gjakova, Kosovo, July 14-15.

    During the two-day operation, MNBG-E Soldiers responded to notional flooding and mudslides throughout Gjakova- a region of Kosovo that is home to roughly 90,000 citizens- and set their sights on theoretically changing Mother Nature’s latent impact on the region.

    “By definition disasters are only disasters based on context; they are sudden events that cause great damage or loss of life,” said Capt. Kyle Crom, assistant operations officer for the Arizona National Guard’s, 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Redhawk. “By preparing our Soldiers to respond as rapidly and appropriately as possible to the needs of Kosovo citizens, during such an event, we can diminish the potential loss of life. By doing so, U.S. and NATO partners change the definition of such an event from a natural disaster to an unfortunate phenomenon, which may have resulted in loss of property, but not life.”

    Areas of Kosovo with destabilized terrain only add to the fear that significant rain fall could in fact turn into a natural disaster and result in a significant loss of life.

    Because of this, Crom said his unit must prepare for the worst case scenario and more importantly be “available”.

    “We train to fight, or in this case, to respond to the worst case scenario possible in order to ensure that when we’re needed, we’re there and we’re prepared,” said Crom. “In my mind the worst case scenario is one in which NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) is unable to respond. By being available and capable, we’re preventing the worst case scenario from occurring.”

    To help lessen the impact of any future natural disaster, the 2-285 AHB focused on refining and perfecting their battle drills, real world troop movement, sling load operations, air response and recovery procedures, while also testing the individual capabilities of their medical staff and refueling teams on the ground.

    “All skills are perishable,” said Crom, a Chandler, Arizona native. “The small training objectives within the bigger framework of the exercise were intended to test and develop the decision making capabilities of junior leaders within the organization. By exercising our skills we ensure that we will actually possess those abilities when called upon.”

    The likelihood that Crom and his team would have to respond to mass flooding is minimal, considering Kosovo has not been subject to such a disaster throughout its brief history. However, Crom pointed to history as an indication of why it’s better to be ready rather than reactive.

    “Nobody thought a mountainous state like Colorado would be host to a massive flood… but the 2013 Colorado Front Range flood did happen and the National Guard did respond,” he said. “We are training in preparation for an all-hazards response, regardless of the likelihood.”

    Although they hope the situation never arises, the Soldiers must be prepared to do more than just respond to the call. Instead, once on scene they must be able to work hand-in-hand with their Kosovo counterparts, something the U.S. responders said was not an issue during the training.

    “Our collaborative processes with the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) are ideal because they know that we’re doing everything we can to ensure our competencies are maintained and at a standard that will be advantageous to their needs, should they ask for it,” Crom added. “By improving ourselves as team members we are enhancing the team as a collective.”

    Crom and Moreno agreed, the success of the operation was a testament to the strength of the partnership between the U.S. and Kosovo security elements throughout the region.

    “I have been very impressed with the KSF,” said Capt. Mikel Moreno, operating base mayor for the exercise. “They know what they are doing and at the end of the day we came together and we made it happen… it’s a great partnership.”

    Although the exercise was a success, its not over just yet. Crom and Moreno will make things more challenging as they team up with the KSF and local Kosovars during part two of Operation Poseidon which will include night time operations.

    The multinational team will look to synchronize their labors with limited visibility in an effort to increase their overall readiness to answer the call, should Mother Nature set her sights on Kosovo.

    (Editors Note: U.S. and NATO forces have contributed to the United Nations-mandated peacekeeping mission in Kosovo since June 1999.)



    Date Taken: 07.15.2016
    Date Posted: 07.20.2016 06:20
    Story ID: 204447
    Location: CAMP BONDSTEEL, ZZ 
    Hometown: PHOENIX, AZ, US

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