By Pfc. Lynnwood ThomasAugust 14, 2019
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Shalanda Young, clerk and staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, visited Camp Bondsteel to meet with leaders of KFOR 26 Multinational Battle Group - East Aug 2.
Young works with the committee's members of Congress and is the lead person on the staff who decides how federal resources are spent.
"Our largest tranche is defense funding, and my visit is to help inform what the U.S. presence is doing in Kosovo," Young said. "I'll go back and talk to members of Congress, and that helps inform the decision on our continued presence, the funding levels and our NATO involvement."
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joseph McNamara, MNBG-E executive officer, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles Throckmorton, U.S. Army Europe chief of House Congressional Affairs and Geoffrey Chanin, Department of State political officer, also attended the meeting facilitated by U.S. Army Capt. Thomas Brewer, director of Area Support Group Balkans Department of Public Works.
"The brief was about area support group operations [concerning] how we support the battle group, how we support the mission in Kosovo and how we support the local communities," Brewer said.
During the meeting, they discussed current operations in Kosovo including Soldiers' quality of life, waste management, and water treatment. Other topics of interest were recycling, environmental service and Camp Bondsteel infrastructure.
"[Ms. Young] is on a visit to ensure that the tax-payers' money is being well spent," McNamara said, who added that the second part of the ASG Balkans facilities brief described daily operations at Camp Bondsteel. "We're here on mission to provide a safe and secure environment for the people in Kosovo."
Most of Young's trip focused on U.S. foreign assistance and State Department activities in the Republic of North Macedonia. She said her visit to Camp Bondsteel was a departure from the diplomatic point of view, and allows her to see another side of the U.S. presence in the region.
"Now I'm focusing on the presence of forces and what that's doing to calm tensions in the region," she said. "My biggest takeaway is both are needed. I work with Congress, and we always try to find that balance between diplomatic and defense posture."
Young's trip left her with a positive impression of Camp Bondsteel and its current operations.
"I think most people see the U.S. military as the best of the world and [my visit here] shows it," Young said. "[Just] the sheer logistics of providing for our troops - I'm always impressed and I'm impressed by Camp Bondsteel."