By Capt. Mike Arcovitch
KFOR Regional Command East
Soldiers from the U.S. Army, including Soldiers from multiple National Guard states, Reserve Component, and Active Duty, as well as Soldiers from Poland, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary, and Italy, have fully established at various locations across Kosovo as part of Regional Command – East. Needless to say, we hit the ground running.
Kosovo has experienced a fair amount of wild fires of late, and RC-E has been called upon to assist in combating fires in the Western and Northern portions of Kosovo.
Our aviation battalion, Task Force Valkyrie, was first called upon to help wither the wild fires. The National Guard aviation battalion utilized Bambi Buckets – a large container used to scoop water out of nearby lakes – to immediately respond to the call for assistance from local authorities. The aviation battalion ran dozens of missions and eventually, through a combined effort with Kosovo municipalities on the ground, contained the wild fire in the west. Their work, and the work of Soldiers in RC-E to combat wild fires, was not yet complete.
A call for assistance in the north soon came, and aviation was again sent with Bambi Buckets to assist in efforts to contain the fire. Soldiers assigned to the RC-E Maneuver Battalion, Task Force Ransom, consisting mainly of Vermont Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (MTN), worked diligently on the ground to assist authorities and TF Valkyrie. Soldiers dug trenches to create a fire break while aviation dumped thousands of gallons of water on the fires. The combination of Soldiers from TF Ransom, TF Valkyrie, and Kosovo local authorities worked hand-in-hand to again successfully contain a wild fire, this time in Northern Kosovo.
Multinational and U.S. Army Soldiers have gelled well in Kosovo, and proven in a short time that we are able to respond together in a moment’s notice. Vermont Soldiers also interact consistently in day-to-day operations, morale wellness and recreation events, and an occasional volleyball or ping-pong game.
On the whole, Vermont Soldiers across Regional Command – East in Kosovo are doing extremely well. Adaptation to the work place environment, schedules, and rhythm of the typical day has come succinctly. While many Soldiers still greatly miss their loved ones, modern technology has made it easier than ever to keep contact with those back home, even if a Soldier’s schedule only allows for a quick check-in text. We are continuously honored to serve the United States and Vermont, and will keep representing both with pride through our rotation.