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    KFOR conducts Operation Swift Rescue

    KFOR conducts Operation Swift Rescue

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tawny Schmit | Italian Army Soldiers assigned to Regional Command-West, Kosovo Force, approach the...... read more read more

    GJAKOVA/GJAKOVË, Kosovo – Several NATO military allies and partners and Kosovo Police officers converged at the Gjakova/Gjakovë Airfield June 10 to execute and observe Operation Swift Rescue, the most complex multinational field training exercise conducted in recent Kosovo Force history.

    The exercise was spread out across the field training area and the main square, where an Italian Army Liaison Monitoring Team was being held hostage by role playing demonstrators. In keeping with protocols laid out in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, several organizations responded to the disturbance accordingly as the training scenario escalated.

    Kosovo Police officers were the first on scene.

    “Our role today was to protect the LMT which was being held in the building and was not safe,” said Maj. Avdi Berisha, section chief with the Gjakova/Gjakove Regional Police. “So, the KP kept them safe until there was a higher risk and we had to call for backup from the [Multinational Specialized Unit] and KFOR.”

    Berisha said he viewed the training as an opportunity to show the people of Kosovo that safety is their number one priority. His officers will be able to apply the knowledge gained from the training to provide security in a real event if necessary.

    Maj. Ryan Lett, an Iowa Army National Guard plans officer with KFOR’s Regional Command-East who helped coordinate several aspects of the exercise, praised the KP for their involvement and noted that they’re capable of handling crowd riot control situations. However, if a situation escalates, it’s crucial that the KP, the MSU, KFOR and other organizations are able to work together to deescalate a situation.

    “We had close to 13 nations represented in some capacity, either taking part as role players, opposing forces, CRC, you name it,” said Lett. “You’re going to have some communication issues trying to synchronize all of that. But jumping over those language and logistical barriers is the nature of pulling off a multinational, KFOR-wide operation like this.”

    Lett worked closely with Hungarian Defense Forces Lt. Szilard Surjan, who works as a concept of operations training officer for KFOR HQ at Camp Film City.

    Surjan said the exercise is the culmination of at least four months’ worth of planning and coordination. He was tasked with the job during his transition into the KFOR mission and is grateful to have had help from his colleagues to tackle such a large logistical task.

    “In a multiethnic environment, it’s really nice to work with several different countries that have different perspectives about the same thing,” said Surjan. “I always worked with professionals, especially out of Regional Command-East.”

    Lett echoed the sentiment, noting that Surjan went “above and beyond” to pull all the pieces together at the KFOR level by staying organized and following up to ensure each unit was contributing their share of work.

    The dedication and professionalism of the rest of the stakeholders spoke for itself as the scenario unfolded. Slovenian Armed Forces troops role played as rioters and spared no effort in using their extensive CRC knowledge to make the training realistic – they used water bottles to mimic Molotov cocktails, threw smoke grenades, simulated burning tires and constructed additional barriers during the scenario to keep the CRC responders on their toes.

    As Lett observed the training – donning a yellow reflective vest alongside other planners and observers – he watched to see how individual unit leaders would react when things got heated. He checked to see if the responders maintained discipline in their ranks as they formed shield blocks and stuck with their tactics.

    “I think some people thought we would just show up, bang some shields and call it a day,” said Lett, “but no, you need to be more coordinated than that if you want to get more training value out of it. The physical part of that was the most interesting thing because it’s going to make their small unit leadership think on their feet, diagnose a problem and then execute.”

    As the responders continued to push back against the demonstrators, troops were also chosen at random to role play casualties, adding another layer of realism to the scenario. U.S. Soldiers stationed at Camp Bondsteel were in charge of a notional casualty collection point, where the CRC elements ran through their medical evacuation protocols to treat patients.

    Nearby, U.S. KFOR aircraft arrived with Turkish Armed Forces troops who were tasked with infiltrating the square and extracting the LMTs being held hostage.

    Going forward, Lett and Surjan said KFOR plans on conducting joint exercises like this one approximately once every three months to continue building interoperability, and units will rotate acting as CRC units and role players to experience the full spectrum of training.

    “If we can build up some continuity and keep that wheel turning, the units will know these exercises are coming and can plan accordingly,” said Lett. “If we can learn from each other and meld all these entities together, future operations will go off a lot smoother.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.13.2021
    Date Posted: 06.13.2021 09:16
    Story ID: 398790
    Location: ZZ

    Web Views: 114
    Downloads: 1

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