Interview with Capt. Jace Rivard, KFOR Regional Command East Public Affairs Officer, conducted by Editor in Chief

Sir, we are very grateful to have this special occasion with you. Thank you for accepting the invitation. 

Q 1: The United States has been continuously supporting Kosovo by all means of political, diplomatic, economic assistance as well as military contributions in the multinational NATO-led KFOR mission. Could you give us the posture of the U.S troops in this mission at the current time?

U.S. Soldiers in Kosovo are currently supporting NATO’s KFOR Regional Command – East which is one of two regional commands postured beneath KFOR higher headquarters. The mission continues to be ensuring a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.

And what battalions, National Guards, Army Reserve, and Active Duty are parts of this mission?

KFOR Regional Command-East is currently led by Commander, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Col. Brey Hopkins. The Brigade Headquarters is from the Vermont Army National Guard and is currently deployed to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. The aviation Task Force supporting KFOR RC-E at Camp Bondsteel from its normal headquarters in Connecticut and is constructed of units of 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, with the Connecticut, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Maryland Army National Guard. The KFOR RC-E Maneuver Battalion is led by Commander, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain), Maj. Zach Fike. This Vermont headquartered unit is currently deployed to Camp Novo Selo and Camp Nothing Hill in Kosovo.  There are a multitude of enabling units to include an Active Duty medical support company from Fort Bragg, N.C. as well as a detachment from the 29th Military Police Company with the Maryland Army National Guard.

Q 2: One of the crucial exercises of KFOR since 2012 has been the annual exercise ‘Silver Sabre’. In what areas of training this exercise places its objectives?

KFOR conducts the annual Silver Sabre exercise in conjunction with Institutions in Kosovo (IiK) to include the Kosovo Security Organizations with the aim of testing and training in the area of emergency response. Recently KFOR has taken a step back and allowed the Iik to plan their own emergency response exercise and publicly display their capabilities as KFOR helps train and coach.

And what role and contribution has the U.S Army in this multinational military event?

KFOR Regional Command-East assists with the event as advisors and coaches while the Institutions in Kosovo and Kosovo Security Organizations plan and execute Silver Sabre.

Q 3: The U.S Army and National Guard have been also leading the demolition Operations and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) in Kosovo. How important do you see and assess the efforts invested in these crucial areas?

Since the inception of Kosovo Force (KFOR) in 1999, the U.S. and multinational partners have provided EOD support to Kosovo. Over the last 20 years great strides have been made to ensure Institutions in Kosovo have the capability to manage calls for unexploded ordnance (UXO) and during our deployment we’ve witnessed the local institutions capable of handling calls for UXO on their own with oversight by our KFOR Regional Command-East EOD personnel.

Q 4: In early July this year, Vermont National Guard was deployed to Kosovo and since then it has been a key component of the KFOR. Could you tell us in what missions, tasks, and operations the Vermont NG is participating during this deployment?

Our mission under NATO KFOR is derived from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 from 1999, to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo. We continue to provide support when needed to the local institutions through regular patrols along the Administrative Boundary Line between Kosovo and Serbia as well as Liaison Monitoring Team patrols amongst the population to gain atmospherics and situation awareness. 

Additional: ‘SILVER SABRE’ – KFOR Exercise on Emergency Response Restarts, NATO 

KFOR soldiers test readiness at Silver Saber, U.S Army

News from:  U.S KFOR Regional Command East

KFOR Regional Command East Religious Support Teams                              NATO-KFOR

Acknowledgments: Image 1: Members of Kosovo Force Regional Command-East from Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United States, in multinational training ‘Combat Lifesaver Course’ hosted by the U.S. Army KFOR 29 Soldiers, Medical team of Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain), Vermont Army National Guard. Camp Novo Selo Kosovo, Aug. 19, 2021. Image ©U.S Army/2nd Lt. Isabelle Motley. The Interview is subject to Copyright Law.