Camp Monteith, in Gnjilane, incorporates a former Serb Army post with a two-plus-mile perimeter fence housing one armored battalion and one infantry battalion. Basecamp Monteith was established in June 1999 in Kosovo to be used as staging points for the bulk of US forces stationed in the Multi National Brigade-East. About 2,000 US service members were stationed at Camp Montieth, near Gnjilane, about an hour from Camp Bondsteel. The camp is named after medal of honor recipient Army 1st Lt. Jimmie W. Montieth Jr, honored for heroism in France during World War II. Troops at Camp Monteith maintain their vehicles in a former Yugoslav army motor pool. At Monteith, a dining facility opened in a former Yugoslav army facility in early September 1999.
Arriving in theater only 17 days after the peace agreement that paved the way for KFOR to enter Kosovo, NMCB 3 moved by convoy to Gnjilane to join Army and Marine Corps peacekeeping troops. Construction of Camp Monteith, named for an Army Medal of Honor winner, began immediately on the grounds of a former Yugoslav artillery base that was heavily damaged during the NATO bombing campaign. Detachment Albania Seabees arrived in Kosovo, also by convoy, in early July after completion of their road repair mission in northern Albania.
The construction effort began in earnest around the first of July with the arrival of the Seabee battalion overland from Albania, where the battalion had been a part of Task Force Hawk during the air war. The Seabees occupied Camp Monteith (on the edge of Gnjilane), which had been a Yugoslav army artillery barracks before the war. The camp itself was largely untouched, except where two precision bombs had destroyed the maintenance facilities. However, either retreating forces or locals had trashed and looted each building, and it took weeks to make them usable again.
As soon as construction materials arrived, work on the SEAhuts began. Named for their origin as troop housing in Southeast Asia, SEAhuts have been modified over the years, and the Kosovo variety is a Davidson SEAhut, used also in Bosnia. Davidson SEAhuts have six 16X32 ft rooms, one a bathroom and the rest for berthing.
Force-protection concerns caused by the closeness of Gnjilane forced us to abandon many of the original buildings on Camp Monteith and build most of the camp in an adjoining field. More than 75 SEA huts, along with support structures, were built for the planned force of about 2,000. It is perhaps a curse of fate that those looking for engineer stories in Kosovo always will overlook Camp Monteith. But even though it is smaller than Camp Bondsteel, Camp Monteith-the site of the American headquarters-is no less an engineering marvel. Buildings have been refurbished, electricity and water run to all soldiers' quarters, and facilities such as weight-lifting and recreation rooms have been built in large fest tents. The camp is also the center of tactical activity in the American sector because of the mixed ethnicity of the surrounding population and the camp's proximity to the Russian battalion serving alongside other peacekeepers in Kosovo. Indeed, the first American fire support for Russian forces since World War II-155-millimeter illumination rounds-were fired from the artillery positions made by Seabee engineers at Camp Monteith.
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