At the Hohenfels Training Area, riot control is a staple of NATO's Kosovo Force training, called KFOR, but during KFOR 18, Jan. 16-31, 2014, the Portuguese Fire Phobia Team turned up the intensity with specialized training to familiarize forces with tactics and techniques for reacting to and mitigating the threat of improvised incendiary devices or weapons such as Molotov cocktails.
Albanian, American, Armenian, Romanian, and Slovenian soldiers participated in the training.
"During cold training, they [soldiers] practiced with a plastic bottles filled with water, so the troops could practice their reaction time, and the actual steps they have to go through to put out the fire with their riot gear, said Sgt. 1st Class Nadine M. Grella, a medical observer, coach and trainer assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, who hails from Port Richie Florida. "The platoon leaders in each platoon were assisting their soldiers, making sure they were using the proper techniques. They were very anxious about doing the live training."
The fear of getting burned, and catching on fire were personal concerns, said Sgt. Suren Mirozoyan of the Armenian Army.
"Every time there is a crowd control mission you may have to deal with a situation like that," said Mirozoyan. "The training was well organized and the instructors briefed us very well. It made me more confident. A situation is less dangerous if you know how to react."
This was the first time the Fire Phobia training was integrated into the KFOR mission-rehearsal exercise.
Despite working with fire, there were no injuries.
"They all worked as a team," said Grella. "I think it's something we need to incorporate more often, because as we draw down troops we might be sent other places, not just Kosovo, for peace-keeping missions."
During KFOR 18, the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas is training during KFOR to join Multinational Battle Group-East in Kosovo.
The KFOR training at the HTA happens biannually. The next Kosovo Force, KFOR 19 is set to begin Sept. 2014.