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.
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.
“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.”
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.
"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.