CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Hundreds of multinational service members from across the NATO-led Kosovo Force participated in a complex crisis response exercise at the Camp Novo Selo training site in Kosovo, Sept. 27, 2022.
Named “Golden Sabre,” the KFOR Regional Command-East hosted exercise focused on the integration of different assets and capabilities of KFOR, testing the ability of the various contingents contributed by NATO allies and partners.
“Our primary mission here is to provide a safe and secure environment and maintain freedom of movement throughout Kosovo,” said Lt. Col. Jason Mendez, commander of the RC-East kinetic battalion. Golden Sabre “was an opportunity for us to come together and exercise interoperability amongst all Kosovo Forces (KFOR).”
The large-scale training exercise focused on crowd and riot control tactics and procedures.
“This allowed for us to practice based on different scenarios that we might encounter, and how we would integrate with each other to restore a safe and secure environment or freedom of movement,” Mendez said.
KFOR conducts the Golden Sabre exercise bi-annually to ensure that units and their Soldiers maintain a high level of operational readiness at all times.
“Based on the varying changeover timelines of each contingent, it’s important to do this every six months to ensure that everyone gets to participate in the exercise,” said Lt. Col. Eddie Simpson, the deputy commanding officer of RC-East. “Golden Sabre provides Soldiers and their leadership with the opportunity to exercise their craft and execute their local company training and CRC practices, as well as enabling the brigade and battalion staff to get out and work together to see some of the areas that need improvement.”
Simpson said that complex exercises, like Golden Sabre, are an opportunity for elements to showcase interoperability proficiency.
“It gives the KFOR commander a lot of flexibility on which elements to use and when to use them,” he explained.
With RC-East as the headquarters for the operation, the Turkish contingent from its kinetic battalion participated in the exercise along with a platoon of Italian Carabinieri, a military police force from KFOR’s Multinational Specialized Unit, Hungarian elements from the KFOR Tactical Reserve Battalion and members from the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo. Elements from the Albanian, Austrian, Latvian and Polish Armed Forces also supported the exercise.
Mendez said that the planning portion of the exercise was just as important as the execution phase.
“As we plan and prepare for these (types of) operations, it’s important for us to understand some of the constraints that we run into when planning and how we prepare to be successful during the execution phase,” Mendez said.
Both Mendez and Simpson expressed that the participating service members successfully met the objectives of the exercise.
“It was a big win for us,” Mendez said. “We don’t always see some of the challenges until we get through the exercise, so it was a big win for us to identify areas that we can improve on and continue to build confidence in our abilities as KFOR.”