Army National Guard 'Mountain Warriors' complete NATO Mission

By Sgt. Matthew DamonDecember 22, 2022

Kentucky Soldiers return home
Kentucky Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Brigade were greeted by Kentucky National Guard leadership, friends and family, at the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Ky., as they arrived home from their deployment to Kosovo Nov. 17, 2022. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane) VIEW ORIGINAL

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment “Mountain Warriors” returned to their Old Kentucky Home after a nearly 11-month mission overseas to a large crowd at the Blue Grass Airport Nov. 17, 2022.

Approximately 200 Soldiers returned from their mission in Kosovo, supporting Operation Joint Guardian. The Soldiers were part of NATO’s Kosovo Forces mission as KFOR 30, which represents the 30th rotation for U.S. Soldiers.

This deployment marked the first time that the Infantry Battalion deployed in nearly a decade. In addition, the battalion was deployed to two different theaters of operation.

Mountain Warriors Transfer Authority
Kosovo Force 30's Maneuver Battalion performed a Transfer of Authority Ceremony at Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo Oct 29, 2022. Kosovo Force's mission remains, to provide a safe and secure environment as well as freedom of movement for all in the Kosovo region. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Alex Hellmann) VIEW ORIGINAL

Under Task Force Mountain Warrior, their mission was to provide a safe and secure environment for citizens of Kosovo, and to provide freedom of movement throughout all of Kosovo. Task Force Mountain Warrior consisted of Soldiers from four different troop contributing nations, to include Latvia, Poland, Turkey, and the United States.

Throughout their mission, Task Force Mountain Warrior conducted more than 4,500 different patrols. More than 15 air insertions were conducted along the administrative boundary line, and the task force conducted more than five named operations.

Soldiers Take Part in Friendly Competition
Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment compete in the Great Britain “Charge of the Light Brigade '' team gun run at Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo, March 19, 2022. The event was hosted by “The Royal Lancers'' of Great Britain. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Matthew Damon) VIEW ORIGINAL

“It is easy to recognize and appreciate the importance of our mission,” said Army Lt. Col. Jason Mendez, task force commander and commander of the 1-149th. “The history of Kosovo and NATO’s response has instilled in us a resolve to understand the operating environment and always be ready at a moment’s notice.”

Not only did Task Force Mountain Warrior conduct their primary mission, but they were also able to host or participate in more than 25 different training events. From the quarterly KFOR training events Golden Sabre and Frozen Sabre, to the multiple joint marksmanship ranges, including the German Schützenschnur.

One of the highlights of the training events was Fire Phobia training.

“The purpose of the training is to help better prepare our Soldiers in the event that any type of flammable material is deployed against us in a crowd control setting,” said Army Sgt. Matthew Joseph, an infantryman with Charlie Company, 1-149th. “I think this really builds cohesion within the unit when we do these types of training events.”

Crowd Riot Control Fire Phobia Training
U.S. Soldiers shield themselves from an improvised incendiary device, or Molotov cocktail, during the fire phobia training, part of the Crowd Riot Control training, at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 11, 2022. JMRC leads the Army in developing Allied and partnered nation interoperability. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Matthew Damon) VIEW ORIGINAL

In addition to the mission and training events, the Mountain Warriors also hosted a number of different challenges and friendly competitions. For the Army’s birthday celebration, the Mountain Warriors hosted a tactical team run for some friendly competition with our multinational partners to celebrate the Army's 247th birthday. The run consisted of a 1,775-meter run while wearing body armor, a Sked drag, a litter carry and a water jug carry. Teams completed the competition by running up a small slope to “Take the High Ground,” the battalion’s motto.

Army Birthday Competition
U.S. Army Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, Latvian and Polish soldiers compete in a tactical team run on Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo on June 14, 2022. The tactical team run was put on to celebrate the U.S. Army’s 247th birthday. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Matthew Damon) VIEW ORIGINAL

"The mission is significant, the people we’ve served with have left their mark, but in the end, the people we served here in Kosovo give us great purpose and worth all of our resolute support," Mendez added. “Take the High Ground!”

U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers from Kentucky represented a portion of the U.S.' contribution toward the 3,600 troops provided to KFOR by 28 countries working towards maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.