HOHENFELS, Germany (March 8, 2018) -- Observer-Coach/Trainers (O-C/T's) from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) trained Soldiers from the California Army National Guard's 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participating in a mission rehearsal exercise (MRE) for an impending mission in Kosovo at Hohenfels Training Area, Feb. 18 -- March 12.
The Kosovo Force (KFOR) is a NATO-led international peacekeeping force, which is responsible for establishing and maintaining a secure environment in Kosovo.
Known as KFOR-24, this is the 24th iteration of U.S. units deploying to Kosovo, most of which rotated through the Hohenfels Training Area for their MRE prior to assuming the KFOR responsibility.
Daniel McDowell, a civilian simulations analyst who has been working with JMRC for 20 plus years, breaks down the in-depth training units go through during their MRE, which is based off of UN Resolution 1244 adopted by the Security Council at its 4,011th meeting June 10, 1999.
Soldiers train to interact with governmental and non-governmental entities, to understand the day-to-day operations within Kosovo, replicate administrative boundary lines, and train for potential civil unrest.
Some training focuses on riot control measures for 4th ID Soldiers, alongside Armenian soldiers with 95-532nd Peace Keeping Forces Brigade.
Lt. Col. Steve Gventer, senior O-C/T for JMRC's Grizzly Team, ensured the rotational forces were met with the most realistic riot control training possible.
"The KFOR training is very important for units as they prepare for the Kosovo mission," Said Gventer. "It allows them to understand the boundaries, and how to conduct the security measures alongside other NATO units that are there."
McDowell points out that three or four months following this training his simulations analysis team will go to Kosovo and conduct an after action review with the command staff in order to help prepare for the next rotational unit.
"We ask the questions," said McDowell. "What would you sustain, what would you improve, and what didn't you get? The feedback we generally get is, 'I would change very little; JMRC knocked the ball out of the park and prepared us for this mission set.'"
"So from an analysis perspective," continued McDowell, "we then focus on the current situation in Kosovo. Has there been any changes? Has anything shifted? Are there concerns we need to be aware of? If so, we then interject that information into the next rotation of training."
Lt. Col. Donald Braman, 3rd Sqd., 61st Cav. commander, recognizes the beneficial training his Soldiers are experiencing and will take with them as they proceed to Kosovo.
"The training here at JMRC has been fantastic," said Braman. "The fact that our Army, U.S. Army Europe, and JMRC provides training specifically for this mission shows the importance of this deployment, and shows the dedication for us to be ready.
This training is exactly what we needed to adopt our tactics, techniques and procedures, along with standard operating procedures, for this new environment we're going to."
JMRC's resident OPFOR Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, played the role of rioting civilians in order to replicate a potential volatile situation in Kosovo.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Zadzura with Medical Platoon, 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt., tasked as an additional O-C/T during KFOR-24, offered his insight on the invaluable training.
"The KFOR training tests Soldiers physically, mentally, and tactically," said Zadzura. "They are exposed to the different levels of escalation for the rules of engagement. That can be anywhere from a peaceful protest, to possible car barricades in the street impeding public transportation, or hostile forces directly engaging local police forces and disrupting the peace we're trying to establish in that region."
Braman pointed out two major objectives he had for his unit at JMRC.
"I wanted to integrate with our new higher headquarters, which is the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, from the Army National Guard, who we've not worked with before," Said Braman. "So the fact that we're here for three weeks working together has been very successful.
And secondly, for all Soldiers to understand the Kosovo environment; the political, social, military and economic conditions. There's a host of experts, both civilian and military, who came here to recreate that environment, and I feel that our Soldiers understand that environment now, and we'll be prepared when we leave for Kosovo in a few days from now."