National Guard April 2011 : Page 94
STATE ROUNDUP Balkan Prep Army Guard’s new Kosovo force spent two full months in Indiana getting ready for what is ‘not your typical Army combat environment’ HE MORE THAN 700 Army National Guard soldiers who comprise the U.S. military’s contribution to the Kosovo peacekeep-ing force honed their skills earlier this year at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in southern Indiana. KFOR 14, which includes troops from 20 states and three territories, came together for its post-mobilization training Jan. 3 and deployed early last month. It includes a maneuver compa-ny, an aviation company and medical, explosive ordnance disposal and mili-tary police elements. Their mission now is to provide se-T curity and stability operations in the ﬂedgling nation of Kosovo, a former Yugoslav republic that declared its in-dependence in 2008. They are part of a NATO-led, mul-tinational peacekeeping force that was established in 1999 in the wake of the conﬂict in Kosovo between Serb forces and the majority ethnic-Albanian pop-ulation, which ended only after inter-vention by the alliance. The Guardsmen comprise the foun-dation of Multinational Battle Group-East, which is commanded by Col. Michael D. Schwartz, a New Mexico Army National Guard officer, and also includes troops from Greece, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. “The training [was] phenomenal, much better than I expected,” Schwartz said before KFOR 14 deployed. “They have folks from all over the world who are subject matter experts in the vari-ous special staff skills and functional areas that we train on for Kosovo, which is not your typical Army combat environment.” Schwartz said his force has several primary missions in Kosovo, but essen-tially its job is security. They will be responsible for provid-ing a safe and secure environment to people living in Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity, age or political stance. “We provide security so the in-stitutions in Kosovo can grow into a self-sustaining free and open society,” Schwartz said. “The second thing we provide is freedom of movement to make sure all citizens of Kosovo are able to move about as they need to 94 | Na tional Guard
Army Guard's new Kosovo force spent two full months in Indiana getting ready for what is 'not your typical Army combat environment'
THE MORE THAN 700 Army National Guard soldiers who comprise the U.S. military's contribution to the Kosovo peacekeeping force honed their skills earlier this year at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in southern Indiana.
KFOR 14, which includes troops from 20 states and three territories, came together for its post-mobilization training Jan. 3 and deployed early last month. It includes a maneuver company, an aviation company and medical, explosive ordnance disposal and military police elements.
Their mission now is to provide security and stability operations in the fledgling nation of Kosovo, a former Yugoslav republic that declared its independence in 2008.
They are part of a NATO-led, multinational peacekeeping force that was established in 1999 in the wake of the conflict in Kosovo between Serb forces and the majority ethnic-Albanian population, which ended only after intervention by the alliance.
The Guardsmen comprise the foundation of Multinational Battle Group- East, which is commanded by Col. Michael D. Schwartz, a New Mexico Army National Guard officer, and also includes troops from Greece, Poland, Romania and Ukraine.
"The training [was] phenomenal, much better than I expected," Schwartz said before KFOR 14 deployed. "They have folks from all over the world who are subject matter experts in the various special staff skills and functional areas that we train on for Kosovo, which is not your typical Army combat environment."
Schwartz said his force has several primary missions in Kosovo, but essentially its job is security.
They will be responsible for providing a safe and secure environment to people living in Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity, age or political stance.
"We provide security so the institutions in Kosovo can grow into a self-sustaining free and open society," Schwartz said. "The second thing we provide is freedom of movement to make sure all citizens of Kosovo are able to move about as they need to conduct any business, and also for the forces in Kosovo to move where they need to so they can accomplish whatever job they need to do."
As with any mission, preparation and training with a healthy dose of motivation are crucial to success.
"We spent the last year preparing for this mission," Schwartz said. "Most of the soldiers we have are volunteers in the true sense of the word. I think the true strength of this group is they are all volunteers."
The maneuver element, the New Mexico Army Guard's C Company, 1st Battalion, 200th Infantry, received training on nonlethal applications of force during its time at Camp Atterbury.
This included the use of air-powered pellets, tasers, oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, and riot shields and police batons.
"These techniques have more significance with an increase in stability operations that we will be performing in Kosovo," said 1st Sgt. Charles Garcia, the senior noncommissioned officer. "There were no instances of having to quell riots with the last KFOR rotation, but we still need to be prepared."
They also practiced setting up checkpoints for vehicles. "The purpose of the checkpoints is to halt the trafficking of weapons or anything else illegal," said Spc. José Cruz, a medic with C Company. "However, we have to ensure that we don't interfere with the flow of legitimate traffic."
During these checkpoint operations, the soldiers assist Kosovo police, who act as translators and apprehend suspects after the searches.
Capt. Sergio Hands added that one of the biggest challenges has been going from high intensity operations to a lower intensity peacekeeping mission.
"We have to adjust from our doctrinal infantry tasks to these less kinetic missions," he said.
–By Army Staff Sgt. David Bruce
It's Official: Guard Airlift Wing To Trade Aging C-5s for C-17s
The 105th Airlift Wing is getting ready do something it hasn't done in 26 years: Convert to a new aircraft.
The New York Air National Guard unit at Stewart Air Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., will swap its aging C-5A Galaxies for C-17 Globemaster IIIs.
Air Force officials announced the conversion last month, although it had been rumored for months. The 105th has been operating the C-5A since July 1985. It was the first Air Guard unit to fly the aircraft.
The first two C-17s will arrive in July. The wing will also receive training and test equipment this summer and continue training maintenance personnel and aircrews until all eight C-17s are in place by May 2012.
"This is good news for the Hudson Valley since the stationing of more modern, capable aircraft at Stewart ensures that the base, which employs more than 600 members of the New York Air National Guard on a daily basis, continues its critical role well into the future," said New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
A total of 1,346 airmen, full-time and traditional part-time, are assigned to the wing.
"The members of the 105th Airlift Wing are extremely excited about our selection to base C-17s here at Stewart," said Brig. Gen. Verle L. Johnston Jr., the wing commander. "This is a tribute to the demonstrated skill, dedication and technical ability of our airmen and women."
The Air Force's decision was the culmination of several years of work by Guard leaders and elected officials in the state, said Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the New York adjutant general.
"[This] decision ensures that our Air National Guard will be equipped with the most modern airlifter available, allowing the 105th Airlift Wing to play a key role in our nation's defense for years to come," he said.
The decision also means 12 C-5As assigned to the base will be retired.
–New York National Guard release
To Serve Florida: Guardsmen, First Responders Train Together
More than 250 emergency responders from multiple Florida agencies donned hard hats, hefted shovels and picks, and came together last month for a yearly exercise designed to keep citizens safe in the Sunshine State.
The Florida National Guard hosted the third annual "Operation Integration" at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center on March 8. The focus of the day-long exercise was to integrate the emergency response skills of various agencies into a scenario simulating a large-scale natural disaster.
"This is all for one purpose: to serve the people of Florida," said Capt. Gene Redding of the Florida National Guard.
He and a team of soldiers and airmen from the Florida Guard's chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive enhanced response force package, worked side by side with other state and local emergency response experts during the day-long scenario at Camp Blanding's urban disaster training area.
Participants included urban-searchand- rescue task forces, hazardous materials experts and medical technicians from several state and local agencies and several local fire-rescue teams.
Redding said this year is slightly different than the past two similar exercises hosted by the Florida Guard. He said the Guard is integrating more with local and state first responders as opposed to the active-component military teams they've worked with in the past.
"These are the people we are most likely to work with in the event of a disaster," he said.
–By Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa
Female Silver Star Recipient Missed Soldiering, Re-enlists
Few heroes have kept as low a profile as Leigh Ann Hester since her life was changed March 20, 2005.
The Kentucky Army National Guard sergeant gained immediate fame for receiving the Silver Star after helping mount a counterattack against some 50 insurgents who had ambushed a coalition convoy that Sunday morning in Iraq.
Hester, now 29 and a police officer in Tennessee, became the first woman to be awarded the nation's third highest medal for valor in combat. No woman had received it since four Army nurses did for evacuating a hospital under enemy fire in Anzio, Italy, in 1944.
Hester, who said little about her actions and her medal for nearly six years, was in the limelight again when National Public Radio included her story in a series about military women during the last week in February. Hester was a military police soldier in Iraq.
She was cited as a prime example of how women frequently find themselves in combat these days despite the Pentagon's policy against letting them serve in the traditional combat arms.
"I can't tell you how many times our squad got blown up. I mean, it was nothing for us to get shot at every other day or more," Hester told NPR's Rachel Martin. "You know, it's just something that happened one day," she added about reacting to the 2005 ambush. "I was trained to do what I did, and I did it. So we all lived through that battle."
And her life has gone on even as she has avoided the spotlight which, she told NPR, is "something that I haven't gotten used to."
Hester joined the police department in Franklin, a central Tennessee city of nearly 60,000, in August 2006. She's on the Bike Patrol Team.
She left the Kentucky Guard, after six years in April 2007 and joined the Tennessee Army Guard's 269th Military Police Company in Murfreesboro in February 2010. She is a platoon team leader.
"I'm glad I took a break," she told NPR. "It made me realize that I really enjoyed being a soldier and that it's something that I missed and it's something that I'm good at. And I look forward to being deployed again."
–By Bob Haskell
More Help: New Helicopters to Enhance Response Capability
The Louisiana National Guard has added four new medical-evacuation helicopters to its fleet, just in time for hurricane season that begins June 1.
The aircraft, UH-72A Lakotas, are multimission, light-utility helicopters that combine operational capability, reliability and affordability, while fulfilling all of the Army's requirements for speed, range, endurance and overall performance, an official said.
"Along with our other fleet of helicopters, these UH-72As will be used to provide assistance during emergency situations and when we have to provide disaster response," said Chief Warrant Officer Charles Ott, an instructor pilot.
He said the Lakota's medevac variant is an especially capable platform. It has rear-loading clamshell doors, an externally mounted rescue hoist and cabin space to accommodate two stretchers and one medical attendant.
The helicopter also can support some of the latest emergency-medical equipment, including a defibrillator, a vital signs monitor and a ventilator.
"Although our UH-60 Black Hawks have proven to be a useful helicopter, the Lakotas are lighter and allow us to maneuver in places where the larger Black Hawks cannot," Ott said.
–By Sgt. Michael L. Owens
Nation's Best Alert Pilot Still Pumped for Mission
Even nearly 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, scrambling for an air sovereignty alert mission is never routine. Not even for the man considered the nation's best alert pilot.
"Your heart goes to your throat, you can't get out of the building fast enough, you get to the jet and you hope your motor skills can zip and snap the G-suit on quickly," said Lt. Col. Mark Milham, the 2010 Air Sovereignty Pilot of the Year. "You wonder,
'Where am I going, what am I doing, and how serious is it?'"
Milham, the commander of the 162nd Fighter Wing's Air Sovereignty Alert Detachment in Tucson, Ariz., received the award at a First Air Force commander's conference at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 24.
The veteran F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot has more than 4,400 flying hours, 150 of them in combat.
He said there is little difference between flying in combat and scrambling on alert.
"Even when you know there is a planned exercise coming up, when the klaxon goes off, you jump in your skin," he said.
Milham and his detachment were busy in 2010. In addition to numerous scrambles, he helped edit the tactics manual for North American Aerospace Defense Command pilots.
The detachment also earned the highest rating of "mission ready" from NORAD from inspectors after a rigorous no-notice alert-force evaluation in November.
Inspection specifically cited Milham's leadership and oversight in the execution of the new tactics.
–By Maj. Gabe Johnson
Deployed Guard Troops Train Djibouti Army's Elite Soldiers
Members of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 137th Infantry, recently trained members of the Djiboutian army's elite 1st Rapid Action Regiment in squad movement, convoy operations, contact drills, camp security and marksmanship.
Training also included mortar-crew training and a combat-engineering course, according to Staff Sgt. Nelson Perkins, mission commander and a member of Kansas Army National Guard unit.
"Our mission here is to mentor the Djiboutian military as they prepare for upcoming missions," said Staff Sgt. Travis Elder, an infantry squad leader with the 137th. "We're trying to help them so they are capable of preventing conflict, establishing regional stability and protecting coalition interests here."
The Kansas soldiers have been in Djibouti since June to build relations with the military and government of the country on the Horn of East Africa.
"My team and I are out here mentoring the soldiers and helping them along, basically giving them more tools for their toolbox," added Elder. "We're showing them things that have helped us get through certain operations, and we want to help them so they can get through their future missions without any problem."
The Djibouti regiment, established in 1991, provides border security on the Somaliland border, seven miles from the camp where the training took place.
According to 2nd Lt. Omar Ali, a company commander and interpreter, Guard instructors are good because they have real world experience in what they teach.
"We already had a good relationship with the U.S. Army," Ali said, "and I have to say it's a good thing and we have a good image of the U.S. Army."
–By Maj. Khalid Cannon
Read the full article at http://www.nationalguardmagazine.com/article/State+Roundup/684641/65566/article.html.