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KFOR Soldiers train to provide quick and decisive action anywhere in Kosovo

Jan 15, 2010

By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hagburg, 116th Public Affairs Detachment

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Soldiers from Multi-National Task Force - East's (MNTF-E) Quick Reaction Force tested their skills in a day of exercises near Biti e Poshteme/ Donja Bitina and Crep/ Crepana, Kosovo, Jan. 13.

The exercises were designed to ensure that KFOR Soldiers stay ready to face the unexpected incidents they could encounter as part of their QRF duties in responding quickly and decisively anywhere in Kosovo.

The QRF plays a key role as MNTF-E transitions into a Multi-National Battle Group February 1, 2010. Because of the adjusted troop levels through deterrent presence, the QRF must have the flexibility to move out and react to incidents in the Multi-National Battle Group area of operations at a moment's notice.

Beginning their test, QRF Soldiers reacted to a simulated vehicle rollover near Biti e Poshteme/ Donja Bitina on the morning of Jan. 13. Multiple vehicles were involved in the incident and several Soldiers required medical attention. The QRF Soldiers were required to locate the scene of the incident and react to the simulated injuries and damage at the scene.

"Everyone performed their duties in a professional and efficient manner, from the Soldiers providing security and medical treatment on the ground to the aviation Soldiers in the air," said Capt. Bill Nels, Surrey, N.D., one of the exercise planners for MNTF-E. "It was a coordinated display of exactly how a quick reaction force is supposed to respond. This is an important step in proving their abilities to react to any situation wherever it might be in Kosovo."

In the afternoon, the QRF confronted a simulated helicopter incident near Crep/Crepana. A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter reported that it was making a precautionary landing, after which, communications were lost with the aircraft. Testing its ability to move quickly to address the incident, the QRF launched from Camp Bondsteel in two UH-60 helicopters, located the downed helicopter, and treated injured Soldiers at the scene.

The QRF Soldiers said the exercise was a valuable way to polish their skills.

"It just keeps us on top of everything. If you don't use it, you lose it, so you have to be constantly remembering," said Pfc. Sean E. Holley, Inglewood, Calif., Charlie Co., 1-144th Maneuver Task Force. "It's an exercise and I learned from it, so when it comes to the live event, hopefully I'll be ready."

Because both the scenarios involved injured Soldiers, the training tested not only the QRF team's ability to quickly react to an incident and to provide first aid but also its skills at calling in additional medical assistance and evacuating casualties from the scene and coordinating with local institutions in Kosovo such as the Kosovo Police. In the morning scenario, the QRF had to call in ground and air ambulances. In the afternoon, the QRF summoned an air medical evacuation team. The real-world training enhanced the QRF's readiness.

"When you put the sense of realism into any type of training, it will help." said 2nd Lt. Thomas C. Touw, Crownsville, Md., platoon leader for 3rd Platoon, Charlie Co., 1-144th Maneuver Task Force. "Thing such as the actual physical weight of an injured Soldier are things that really test your Soldiers and make sure that you are practicing the things you've learned."

The scenarios were wide in scope, so the training benefitted the QRF Soldiers and also Camp Bondsteel's military police, aviation crews, medics and coordination with Kosovo Police. The military police secured the incident scenes while awaiting assistance from the QRF; the air crews flew helicopters both to transport the QRF Soldiers and to recover simulated injured Soldiers, and the medics gained experience treating accident victims at the scene and moving them back to Camp Bondsteel.

"As Multi-National Task Force-East adjusts troop levels through deterrent presence, it is vital we exercise our ability to react quickly and decisively anywhere in Kosovo as a third responder behind Kosovo Police and EULEX," said Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, MNTF-E commanding general. "Today's exercises tested those actions and our coordination with Kosovo Police. As we continue through changing times, these exercises validate the progress in Kosovo."

Multi-National Task Force - East is a U.S. led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This task force is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine). The charter mission of MNTF-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo.

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