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    Army National Guard units return from nine-month deployment to Kosovo



    Story by Jonathan Koester 

    Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss

    Three Army National Guard units returned to the United States on July 19 after a nine-month deployment to Kosovo. Though they were grateful to be home and received many thankful handshakes after landing at the Silas L. Copeland Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group at Fort Bliss, Texas, receiving a friendly welcome was something common during the successful deployment of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard; Bravo Company, 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Oklahoma Army National Guard; and the 141st Military Intelligence Detachment, Utah Army National Guard.

    1st Lt. Andres Torres, Commander, 141st MI Detachment, said the Soldiers’ mission of helping to keep peace in the area was well supported by the citizens of Kosovo.

    “It’s one of those missions where the people actually want us to be there,” Torres said. “Everywhere we would go we would get handshakes. People love the United States because of what we did for them back in the Kosovo war. The Albanian population in Kosovo is really supportive of us being there, and of the United States’ support of them being an independent country.”

    Torres said he was impressed that the citizens of Kosovo were still thankful for the help of the United States military many years after the fighting had ended.

    “For the guys who have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s a completely different type of deployment,” Torres said. “In Kosovo there are no real threats from the people. They want the best for us and are very happy that we’re there. There were plenty of times where individuals welcomed us and gave us food to say ‘thank you.’ The war has been over since 1999, and they still have that type of sentiment.”

    The 141st MI Detachment, along with the 45th BSTB, were late additions to the mission led by the 37th Infantry BCT.

    Originally, a military intelligence company from the Maryland Army National Guard was scheduled to join the 37th IBCT in Kosovo. But about a month before deployment, that company was given another mission. The 45th BSTB was tasked with quickly taking their place, and they reached out to the 141st MI Detachment for six spots they couldn’t fill. The units all worked well together to make the mission happen, Torres said.

    “The MI profession is a very small group,” Torres said. “We were able to integrate very well with them. They supported us because we didn’t have a year to train up for this mission. We had literally a week. The 45th BSTB were in the same boat. We all understood that, and we were able to meet the challenge and to educate ourselves on what Kosovo is, what problems they face and the problems NATO faces in that region. The Balkans is like a matchbox. It can light up real fast.”

    Being able to do the Army intelligence mission while in a country that doesn’t have the dangers of Afghanistan or Iraq allowed the units’ younger Soldiers to receive some good experience in their skill sets, said 1st Sgt. Larry Wyatt, 45th BSTB.

    “Intelligence analysts are typically stuck behind a computer,” Wyatt said. “But with this environment, they were able to get out into Kosovo — all parts of Kosovo — and see the relationship between what they read on the computer, the reports they get in, what they are analyzing and what the picture is out there on the street. They were able to interact with the people of Kosovo understand how the Army intelligence process works together to form a single idea or thought.”

    The units were stationed at Camp Bondsteel, in the southeast corner of the landlocked nation.

    “It’s still classified as a hazardous duty; we still have to have weapons on us constantly,” Wyatt said. “But you don’t have that imminent threat every single day. You’re not worried about taking rounds on the base or anything like that, so it gives them the opportunity to focus on what their mission is.”



    Date Taken: 08.03.2017
    Date Posted: 08.10.2017 13:56
    Story ID: 244413
    Location: COLUMBUS, OH, US 

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