Special Edition on the Anniversary of NATO KFOR June 1999.
Interview with 1LT Catherine M. Bean, KFOR Regional Command East Public Affairs Officer, conducted by Editor in Chief.
Q 1: Over the last two decades Virginia Army National Guard has been the vital components of the NATO-led operation KFOR with its ongoing support and deployment to Kosovo.
- Can you brief us about the current mission, and the roles that Virginia National Guard is holding in KFOR RC-East? And how the U.S Army battalion leads the multinational forces in Kosovo?
1LT Catherine M. Bean: The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia National Guard is the commanding unit of Kosovo Forces, or KFOR, Regional Command-East. Regional Command-East is one of two regional commands subordinate to KFOR Headquarters. Regional Command-East’s mission continues to support of the overall mission of KFOR and the United Nations mandate that guides KFOR. Regional Command-East remains committed, together with our partners, to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people and communities in Kosovo.
Q 2: In early May the U.S. Army Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher, Assistant Adjutant General, Virginia National Guard, and Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Smith, state command sergeant major, VaARNG, visited KFOR RC-East.
- Please tell us the highlights of this visit.
1LT Catherine M. Bean: Brigadier General K. Weedon Gallagher, Assistant Adjutant General, Virginia Army National Guard, and Command Sergeant Major Ronald L. Smith, Command Sergeant Major, Virginia Army Guard, visited the command teams and Soldiers of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and area of operations in Kosovo, May 6 to May 8, 2022. During the visit, Brig. Gen. Gallagher and Command Sgt. Maj. Smith received a tour of the medical and aviation area of operations, met with 1st battalion, 149th Infantry command teams at Camp Novo Selo, visited with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Soldiers at Camp Nothing Hill, and conducted an aerial site tour of Kosovo locations within RC-East.
Q 3: KFOR Civil and Military Cooperation (CIMIC) conference was held in KFOR Headquarters, Pristina, in March this year.
- Can you speak about the framework and the objectives of this conference?
1LT Catherine M. Bean: The KFOR Civil and Military Cooperation, or CIMIC, conference framework included a series of presentations by the KFOR Headquarters CIMIC, local NGOs, and international organizations, as well as, hosted an open discussion on how KFOR can best use its CIMIC resources to positively impact the communities within Kosovo. This allowed KFOR to complete its objectives of building a network of CIMIC related organizations, facilitating increased coordination and information sharing between the attending groups, and facilitating in-person large-group discussion.
Q 4: Added to its military peacekeeping operation, the KFOR RC-East has been simultaneously supporting civil military cooperation and community based projects from the beginning of its mission- continuing to the present time.
- What are the recent projects that KFOR RC-East has initiated or is part of?
1LT Catherine M. Bean: KFOR Regional Command-East’s recently completed projects, and currently developing projects, are meant to enhance the current capacities of schools at all education levels, women’s shelters, local non-governmental organizations, and the public safety sector. For example, KFOR Headquarters and Regional Command-East recently completed a project including the donation of a constructed water well at the Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence in NOVO BRDO, enabling the shelter to provide potable water to its residents. Regional Command-East also utilizes Soldiers within the medical unit and effects battalion as resources to provide valuable trainings like CPR, infant care, and burn and scrape care to local schools and NGOs, enabling them to share that knowledge with the community.
Q 5: From troop transport, extinguishing wildfires and rapidly transporting injured personnel via medical evacuation, the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter has demonstrated itself as a great asset for KFOR.
- Please give us a view to the capability of UH-60 Black Hawk and its main operational task in the recent years in NATO-led KFOR mission.
1LT Catherine M. Bean: The UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter is the U.S. Army’s primary medium-lift utility transport and air assault aircraft. It is the work-horse of the Army and is equally proving its capabilities and necessity in the NATO KFOR mission. And is used on a daily bases for a multitude of purposes including troop transportation, Bambi-bucket firefighting, sling load operations and much more. Another critical mission the Black Hawk supports in KFOR is providing aerial medical evacuation, or MedEvac. With the aircraft’s heavy lift capacity, it is able to conduct external hoist operations, which allows the MedEvac crew to conduct aerial lifts of personnel in excess of 600lbs. In addition to its hoist capabilities, the UH-60L is a superior platform for the MedEvac mission due to the internal capabilities such as ventilator support, pain management, and search and rescue capability.
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Acknowledgments: Image-1 U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Pettway, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia National Guard, discusses aircraft procedures and safety with service members of the Swiss Air Force. Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, April 2022. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Warren Wright ©KFOR Regional Command East/U.S Army/U.S National Guard. The Interview is subject to Copyright Law.