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Rapid Guardian

US troops from Germany and Italy deployed to Kosovo for an exercise in July 2001 as American soldiers already there continued their confiscation of weapons on the Macedonian border. The training exercise named "Rapid Guardian II" began July 10 as about 200 soldiers from the Army's Southern European Task Force (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy, parachuted into the British sector of Kosovo. The exercise is designed to test the U.S. European Command's capabilities to quickly deploy forces into the region, officials said. On the ground, the soldiers participated in training and orientation patrols with soldiers already in the region, according to officials. They said the operation is expected to last about 10 days.

U.S. soldiers and airmen from Germany and Italy began deploying to Kosovo 28 November 2001 as part of an operational deployment rehearsal named Rapid Guardian III. This will exercise the rapid deployment of a U.S. Component of the NATO Balkan strategic reserve force. An airborne task force of approximately 200 soldiers from the U.S. Army?s Southern European Task Force (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy, conducted a parachute drop into the Multi-National Brigade (Central) sector of Kosovo to exercise the U.S. European Command?s capabilities to quickly deploy forces into the region. After arriving on the ground, the soldiers participated in training and peacekeeping patrols with KFOR units. The operation lasted about two weeks, ending on or about December 15th. U.S. Air Force transport aircraft from the 86th Airlift Wing in Germany supported the airborne operation. The task force represents an additional resource for NATO?s use in maintaining a secure environment in the Balkans.

The day after delivering about 35,000 humanitarian daily rations to Afghan refugees, Kaiserslautern Military Community soldiers and airmen delivered supplies to servicemen continuing another important mission. Soldiers from the 5th Quartermaster Company and airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron airdropped 32 bundles of supplies from three C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft into Kosovo. The airdrop was the third in a series of exercises called Rapid Guardian. Rapid Guardian I and II dropped people. Rapid Guardian III was the first drop of supplies. Even though the drop was part of an exercise it was treated like an operation. The equipment landed onto a drop zone secured by 300 British, Finnish and U.S. forces. The U.S. soldiers who secured the drop zone and recovered the chutes and supplies were from the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

An airborne task force of approximately 200 soldiers from the US Army's Southern European Task Force in Vicenza, Italy, dropped into Kosovo 11 July 2002 for exercise RAPID GUARDIAN 02-3. Approximately 1,000 US troops deployed by airborne and airland operations directly into Kosovo. The rehearsal provides an opportunity to practice the U.S. European Command's capabilities to quickly deploy forces into the region. These 'over-the-horizon' forces represent additional U.S. resources for NATO's use in maintaining a secure environment in the Balkans. In conjunction with the exercise, approximately 100 soldiers from the U.S. Army V Corps' 1st Infantry Division in Germany deployed as a supporting element with six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and crews. This exercise validates the capabilities of the US component of NATO's Strategic Reserve Force and demonstrates NATO's resolve and commitment to the region.

As the SETAF soldiers were about to re-deploy, a second iteration of approximately 100 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, part of the U.S. Army V Corps' 1st Armor Division, will arrive along with some 200 U.S. Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., to conduct similar operations. Rapid Guardians have focused on the rapid deployment of SETAF assets. The additional deployments of the soldiers of 1-35 Armor Battalion and Marines from the U.S. represent an initiative to maximize the event's training value for additional units that could be involved in reinforcing KFOR if needed.

Overall, Rapid Guardian 02-3 lasted approximately four weeks. In conjunction with Rapid Guardian 02-3, approximately 100 soldiers from the U.S. Army V Corps' 1st Infantry Division in Germany have deployed as a supporting element with six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and crews. The Apaches self-deployed to Kosovo over a four-day period and were integrated into operations on the ground in Kosovo during the initial part of the rehearsal. One German company of about 70 soldiers and one United Kingdom company of about 120 soldiers also participated in ground operations. The rehearsal provides an opportunity to practice the U.S. European Command's capabilities to quickly deploy forces into the region. The assets involved represent additional U.S. resources for NATO's use in maintaining a secure environment in the Balkans.



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