The Herald was also able to check in with Lt. Col. John Cogbill, commander of the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade's 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment. Nearly four months in to a nine-month deployment, here is what he had to say about the unit's mission in Kosovo.
What have been some of the challenges this deployment?
The biggest challenge was shifting directions in our training path as a Corps Reconnaissance Squadron to a Peacekeeping force. For example, one the primary tasks for the maneuver companies is to conduct crowd riot control drills. This is normally a police or National Guard task so we had to get creative on training (i.e. seeking out opportunities to train with San Antonio SWAT or the 89th MPs).
What's it like working with forces from so many other countries?
Working with our multinational partners presents both challenges and opportunities. Challenges are obvious like language barriers or interoperability of communications systems. However, there are just as many, if not more, opportunities to cross-train with our partners, exchange techniques, tactics and procedures (especially in CRC training), and learn about other cultures.
Are there any accomplishments of your soldiers you are most proud of?
I'm proud of the way our troopers adopted the new mission and how quickly they've become proficient in peace support operations tasks. They received exclusive feedback from the observer controllers at JMRC and they have continued to work together with their multinational partners to achieve superior results in Kosovo.
Is there anything specific you would like to share with Central Texas about the mission in Kosovo?
The mission in KFOR is important, not only to the people of Kosovo, but to our Army and to our allies. If you ask me, this is what winning looks like. Fifteen years ago NATO was dropping bombs to prevent ethnic violence and reported atrocities between Serbs and Albanians. Today, Kosovo has had five successful elections, without any significant security incidents, in less than a year and has achieved irreversible momentum on the pathway to a lasting peace. This is made possible by the safe and secure environment and freedom of movement that the contributing nations of KFOR ensure, but mostly made possible by the efforts of the people of Kosovo, their police force, and the EULEX teams that have advised them over the years. Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job. For years KFOR has provided a visible deterrent to violence. We intend to transition that role to invisible assurance: we are here if they need us, but not standing on every street corner projecting force.