Joint Readiness on the ABL
June 1, 2013
GJILAN, Kosovo - The Multinational Battle Group - East Kosovo Forces 17 Joint Law Enforcement Liaison Team met with Polish soldiers, the European Union Rule of Law mission in Kosovo, known as EULEX, and the Kosovo Police in Gjilan to enforce security measures along the Administrative Boundary Line between Kosovo and Serbia, May 29.
The JLELT, comprised of soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, operates alongside their counterparts from various nations and organizations to train and prepare the KP and Kosovo Border Police to provide a safe and secure environment in Kosovo. They also serve as a liaison between the Kosovo Police and KFOR, inviting the local institutions to ask for training or assistance from the NATO-led mission.
U.S. Army Capt. Anthony Wilkins, from Kansas City, Mo., said the level of professionalism and technical proficiency he's seen while working with the KBP has been impressive.
"It makes it easier, but at the same time it's challenging as well," said Wilkins. "With a higher level of training, you have to dig into your kit bag deeper to find training to help them progress."
On this day's patrol, the JLELT visited Gate 6, which was under renovation from a recent move. They met with Ruzhd Abdulahu, the KBP commander at Gate 6, and members of EULEX who came to inspect the site. Later, they joined the KBP on a dismounted patrol of small mountain roads in the area that are often used by smugglers attempting to get around the gate security.
Guzmend Jakupi, a member of the KBP, said it felt good to perform the joint patrols with KFOR.
"We like to have the joint patrols," Jakupi said. "We like to see if we can catch something, like the smugglers. We can stop them. We have to stop them."
The KBP checked several sites that have been used by smugglers in the past and set up a vehicle control point on several of the roads, stopping vehicles moving to and from Serbia to inspect their vehicles and check their credentials.
Polish Army Private 1st Class Pawel Pelc, with the 23rd Artillery Regiment, said that keeping the boundary safe leads to keeping the people of Kosovo safe.
"I think we can give them peace here," Pelc said. "And they will feel better, not worry about their families."
Though the KFOR 17 JLELT has been in Kosovo for less than a month, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Two Andre Harris has already been on three joint patrols with the KP and KBP. He said that building a rapport with his Kosovo counterparts, a critical part of their mission, was made easier by previous KFOR rotations.
"To be honest, I believe it is second nature to [the KBP]," Harris, from Rochester, N.Y. said. "This is KFOR 17, so they've seen rotation after rotation, so they're used to it. There's a bit of a transition period where the new unit has to build their rapport, but ultimately they're very cognizant of the new units coming in, so there's no issue. They're able to adapt."