An Exclusive Interview with U.S. European Command (series-2)

An exclusive Interview with the Spokesperson of U.S. European Command conducted by Editor in Chief (Series-2)

Sir, It is a great honor to have you in this interview. Thank you very much for accepting it.

Q 1: U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) is responsible for United States military commitments during peace and war across Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean.

  • Can you tell us the necessary steps the USEUCOM has been taking  in the face of Russian invasion of Ukraine? And how effective do you see these measures?

U.S. European Command Spokesperson: To strengthen NATO and reassure our Allies, the United States has recently deployed additional forces to the USEUCOM area of responsibility and now has approximately 100,000 U.S. service members in Europe.

Personnel are being deployed to deter any potential aggression against NATO’s eastern flank and train with host-nation forces. We don’t have aggressive intent toward any country, including Russia and we do not seek confrontation. We want to reiterate that U.S. forces will not fight in Ukraine, but are positioned to defend NATO territory, adhering to our treaty commitments, if needed.

Additionally, NATO recently announced the activation of the NATO Response Force. The U.S. Department of Defense placed a range of multi-mission units in the United States and Europe on a heightened preparedness to deploy status, which increases our readiness to provide the U.S. contribution to the NRF on short notice.

As for effectiveness of these deployments, we have been successful in deterring Russia from weakening the NATO Alliance. Russia’s actions have only made the Alliance stronger. What this means is that we stand ready and postured for a range of contingencies to act swiftly when called upon by the President. We have made commitments to our NATO Allies to reinforce their defenses in the event of further Russian aggression, and we have followed through.

Q 2:  General Edward Vaughan, Deputy Director of Plans, Policy, Strategy and Capabilities at USEUCOM participated in the Black Sea Maritime Forum which took place in Romania in late February.

  • What importance the United States participation in this Forum signifies?

U.S. European Command Spokesperson: The Black Sea Maritime Forum was an important opportunity for leadership from the U.S., NATO, and Black Sea Allies and Partners to discuss regionally-focused security issues. This forum was planned prior to Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, however, Russia’s aggression has only underscored the importance of this forum and the collaboration and discussion that occurred there.

Q 3: Another important maritime event that took place in February was the integration of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) with two other European Naval Forces; the French carrier Charles de Gaulle’s (R 91) Task Force 473 and Italian carrier Cavour (C-550) strike groups in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Please talk us through the strategic significance of this maritime integration and partnerships?

U.S. European Command Spokesperson: Tri-carrier operations between three allied aircraft  carrier strike groups strengthens high-end maritime integration and NATO Alliance maritime interchangeability.  These operations specifically enhance maritime domain awareness through information-sharing and provide naval crews and aircraft the opportunity to operate in relatively close water and airspace.

Building shared operational processes allows the NATO Alliance to integrate carrier strike group operations when and where needed to reassure NATO Allies and Partners and enhance the Alliance’s maritime warfare capability.

Q 4: The high-level meetings of the U.S. European Command and the Danish Defence Command were finalized early this month in military headquarters Kastellet in Copenhagen.

  • Please outline what terms and additional military cooperation have been affirmed in this agreement?

U.S. European Command Spokesperson: U.S. European Command and the Danish Defence Command recently held high-level staff talks focused on a variety of security cooperation issues. The United States and Demark cooperate closely to enhance security in the Arctic and Baltic regions. U.S. and Danish forces regularly exercise together and have operated alongside each other in during operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and in the Atlantic. Additionally, Denmark graciously hosts U.S. forces at Thule Air Base in Greenland. While no formal agreements were signed, these staff talks are just another example of the continued cooperation and partnership between the U.S. and Danish militaries.

Q 5: The last question is about the military partnerships between the U.S and Norway. At the beginning of 2022 the United States and Norway have reached a new milestone in security cooperation in the Arctic and High North region.

  • Could you elaborate on this new bilateral security cooperation, and the U.S Norwegian military partnership?

U.S. European Command Spokesperson: The close and continued partnership between the U.S. and Norwegian militaries is nothing new and spans more than 75 years. This close relationship is a testament to our shared ideals and commitment to peace and security in Europe. Each year, Norway sends more than 600 military members to the U.S. each year for training and educational exchange programs under the longest running military exchange partnership between any two nations.  Additionally, Norway has hosted up to 700 U.S. Marines for limited rotational training presence in Vaernes and Setermoen since 2017. This training improves the Marine Corps’ cold weather and mountain readiness in Arctic conditions and also enhances interoperability between U.S. and Norwegian forces.

As an example, more than 3,000 U.S. Marines are currently in Norway participating in Exercise Cold Response. They join some 30,000 military forces from 27 NATO Ally and Partner nations taking part in this Norwegian-led exercise. This is the ninth iteration of this multi-domain extreme cold weather exercise designed to enhance our collective military capabilities in the demanding arctic environment. Our participation in this exercise is another example of our close relationship with Norway and their leadership as NATO’s sentinel in the north.

Acknowledgments: Image-1 U.S flag ©U.S Air Forces Europe-Africa 2016. Image-2 USEUCOM and Denmark military staff talk advanced collective defense, March.04.2022 ©USEUCOM public affairs. The Interview is subject to Copyright Law. ©U.S. European Command/U.S. Army Europe and Africa /U.S Army/ U.S.NATO/U.S Europe World Affairs.

January-February Newsletter

Dear all, the January-February’s Newsletter with the spotlight ‘Interview with the NATO Air Command Spokesman’ has been just published. You can view it on the Newsletters page.  Have a safe, happy and blessed week ahead.  Editor in Chief


The International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference Hosted by U.S European Command

This year’s International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference ‘IMCCC’ took place on the virtual platform from February2-3, hosted by the United States (U.S European Command). The conference brought together over 100 military chaplains from 40 countries of NATO members and partner nations across the world.

The theme of this year evolved on ‘Religious Freedom’ 

“Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and the first among rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, as well as many constitutions in the world.”……….

“Religious freedom provides the right to think, express, and act upon what one deeply believes.” highlighted USEUCOM Chaplain (U.S. Air Force Col.) Kleet Barclay. ©USEUCOM Feb.04. 2022

The IMCCC is an annual event established and hosted originally by the U.S European Command ‘USEUCOM’ in Stuttgart in February 1990. Since then the conference has been held every year in different parts of the world hosted by the members and representatives of NATO states and partner nations. The United States ‘USEUCOM’ supports the conference as its co-host every year.

One of the main spheres of this yearly military event is to explore and build the shared values, spirituality, religious support, understanding of other faiths and beliefs , and enduring friendship.

“We are deeply unified by our shared human connection of faith and yearning for peace.” expressed Dr. Franz-Josef Overbeck, the Catholic bishop of the German armed forces in The International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference in 2020 © U.S Army


By  Catherine S. Schmidt, Editor in Chief  

Sources: U.S European Command/U.S. Air Force Captain Christina Judd/U.S Army

U.S National Guard and its State Partnership Program-5 Vermont National Guard

Since its establishment in 1993 by the department of Defense, and implemented by the various State’s National Guards, the State Partnerships program (SPP) has been a pivotal contributor to the world’s stability, security and peace. Up to the recent times, the State Partnership Program has reached over 85 partnerships with 92 nations across the globe, creating the most comprehensive U.S military cooperation and partnerships with the world.

Vermont National Guard is among the five States National Guards which have three State Partnership Programs, by having its ‘SPP’ in two continents, three countries. From 1993 with the North Macedonia; from 2008 with the Republic of Senegal. And in October 2021 formed a new State Partnership Programs with the Republic of Austria.   “I am excited to see our new partnership with Austria facilitate cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encourage people-to-people ties at the state level. And I of course look forward to welcoming our new friends from Austria to Vermont.” Elaborated Lt. Governor Gray on the Vermont National Guard and the Republic of Austria State Partnership, October 15, 2021 ©Office of the Lieutenant Governor of State of Vermont

Vermont’s cooperation with North Macedonia, as part of the National Guard’s state partnership program, has been a long, challenging, and very successful journey for over 26 years,” expressed U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont’s adjutant general. March 2020 ©Vermont National Guard 

In additional to the State Partnership Program, the Vermont National Guard has been part of the U.S deployment in support of U.S military and NATO operations including:

  • In Romania, to support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan
  • In Kosovo, in support of NATO-led KFOR operation
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, in support of NATO-led peacekeeping
  • Horn of Africa Djibouti, in support of Combined Joint Task Force

Added to that, around the globe in different continents and regions–the Vermont National Guard has been simultaneously an indispensable contributor to the large number of humanitarian relief operations. Just to name a few in the recent epoch: building bridges, schools and assisting educational and economic development projects, hosting medical and military training and exercises, supporting Afghanistan evacuation, supporting the Department of State temporarily housing for the Afghan evacuees.


By Editor in Chief 

Acknowledgments: Image: senior leaders with the Vermont National Guard, Austrian Defence Attache staff and personnel from the Office of the Secretary of Defense outside the Pentagon on Oct. 15, 2021.©Vermont National Guard public affairs/Courtesy photo. Sources: Vermont National Guard, National Guard, and U.S Army.

U.S Army and the National Guard in the Humanitarian Operations around the Globe-1

The U.S Army, Nebraska National Guard, and the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) worked around the clock to help restoring the water supply and the drinking water pipe in Djibouti village in Horn of Africa. The project which started in December 2021 was completed in a short period of time with the helping hand of the locals from the Chabelley village in the Arta region of Djibouti.

“Our effort is about much more than fixing a well. It is about demonstrating that we care about our partners and we want our relationship to last.”  expressed 1st Lt. Fortson, construction management officer, 712th ESC U.S Army. 

By Catherine S. Schmidt, Editor in Chief  

Acknowledgments: Image:  U.S. Army Soldiers from the 712th Engineer Support Company (712th ESC), Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa in Chabelley Village, Djibouti, Dec. 22, 2021©U.S. Army National Guard/ Spc. Gauret Stearns.  Sources: National Guard, Spc. Gauret Stearns/U.S Army/Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

The United States Armed-Forces the Freedom Defenders

After twenty years in Afghanistan……..

The United States has never launched a military entry for a territorial interests or political gains. As history marks that almost all U.S interventions have been made based on the main objective of liberating nations; liberating peoples that had been kept in the chains of the despotic systems, tyrannical laws or the authoritarian governments.

No matter in which continents, regions, countries or nations we look in depth, the United States is unceasingly ....reckoned and seen as the ultimate forces of prominent…. liberator.

The captured images of horrified Afghans running in the Kabul airport along the U.S military aircraft, on the eve of August 16, 2021 portrayed desperations.…distress  and… mayhem in the aftermath of the news of the U.S military departure from Afghanistan.                                                        Yet beyond any words….. scripts and interpretations, it portrayed the authenticated tale of indelible chapter of the United States Armed-Forces, which overwhelmed friends and foes with the same degree of bewilder…..astonishment…. and…. awe. 

The United States has never lost a battle, conflicts or wars as its military possesses not only the sheer military might but beyond that it has the cultural and moral appeal which attracts, enchants,…and yet wins over no matter where it sets its presence.              …… it was,…. that happened, ……eventuated in Afghanistan. 


By Editor in Chief, Catherine S. Schmidt (Copyrighted material)

Acknowledgment: Afghans Run Alongside U.S. Military Plane at Kabul Airport ©NBC August 16, 2021


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.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit by U.S Army Chaplain KFOR Regional Command – East

                                         Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit                                                                                        By: U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj.) Eric Stuepfert, KFOR Regional Command – East Chaplain.

            The trees are beginning to turn.  It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year, even for the locals.  Just weeks ago, the rolling mountains stood tall, covered in green as far as your eyes could see.  As a Vermont Green Mountain Boy, you’d think I’d be used to this by now.  The difference this year, is that I’m not in Vermont.  The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) is currently deployed to Kosovo on a NATO peacekeeping mission named Kosovo Force or KFOR. 

 As a Chaplain, I have had the great pleasure of meeting many of the religious leaders throughout Regional Command East and have been able to observe many of the religious traditions and customs found within Kosovo.  I have visited historic sites that I read about as a child, and have seen the magnificent architecture of churches and mosques throughout the Balkans.  Recently I had the privilege of speaking at the Kosovo Center for Peace in Pristina. 

In the speech, I stressed the words found in America’s Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”[1]

            Kosovo has a long history, and much of that history influences today.  Like Americans, the people of Kosovo are deeply influenced by their ethnic and religious heritages.  Like Americans, one generation informs the next generation about the past, both the challenges and the successes.  As I travel around and interact with Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbians, I see and hear this firsthand.  I have also seen the principles and values of America’s Declaration expressed.  For a people with so much history, it gives me hope to hear the ideas of liberty and respect being communicated around the dinner tables.  The belief that all men and women are created equal by their Creator and therefore have certain rights that transcend ethnic, religious, and historical boundaries is foundational to the respect that the people of Kosovo desire and deserve, both from the international community and with one another.  The more that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can be on the hearts and minds of the people of Kosovo, the more the challenges of the past can be overcome through mutual respect and cooperation.

            In the future, a Kosovar may stand on top of one of their mountains that are covered in green trees.  While gazing around at the beautiful landscape God has given them, they may think that they too are in Vermont, like I myself do.  But this won’t be because of the mountains rising through the morning clouds or the green lush trees, but because of the freedoms they enjoy.  May God bless them as they strive for liberty, and may God help the United States be an example to Kosovars and others throughout the world, as we live out the principles and values found in our Declaration. 


Additional: An exclusive interview with MAJ. Sam K. Otto, Spokesperson of the Public Affairs, U.S. Army KFOR Regional Command East.  

News from:  KFOR Regional Command East Religious Support Teams                                          NATO-KFOR                               NATO    

Acknowledgments: Image of U.S. Army Maj. Eric Stuepfert, Chaplain of Regional Command – East KFOR29, and Imam Labinot S. Maliqi, Executive Director – Kosovo Center for Peace, lead a prayer luncheon on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. October 5th 2021 ©KFOR Regional Command East/KFOR Regional Command East Religious Support Team.  The Article is copyrighted material

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