The mission in Kosovo is going “very well” for the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, its commander said Friday.
Three months into its nine-month deployment, Col. Charles Hensley spoke to the Herald about the work soldiers of his brigade headquarters and its reconnaissance unit — 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment — have been able to do since deploying in January.
“Our mission is really as third responders,” he said from his post at Camp Bondsteel. Fort Hood soldiers support the efforts of the Kosovo police and European Union police when needed.
“In (the squadron’s) sector they’ve had some protests where they’ve blocked roads,” Hensley said. “If protestors block roads, it’s considered a freedom of movement issue. How do you go about moving that roadblock in nonlethal and nonviolent manner?
“What I’m proud of is the fact that in the north ... they’ve had a couple of tense situations they haven’t overreacted to. They’ve calmly returned things to a normal state of operation,” Hensley added.
Aside from the “Phantom Recon” Squadron, the 504th also oversees the operations of an aviation task force from the National Guard. Less than half of the 1,377-person unit known downrange as Multinational Battle Group East are American troops. Rounding out the group are soldiers from NATO allies including Slovenia, Turkey, Germany, Ukraine and Poland.
“It’s been a great experience,” Hensley said of working with so many different countries. “They all rotate through various locations through Kosovo. We provide the mission command for those elements. If there are protests, we coordinate the movements of units.”
Hensley said he’s very proud of the way American troops have conducted themselves among their international counterparts.
“They are disciplined and they represent their country very well,” he said.