CAMP VRELO, Kosovo - KFOR Soldiers from four nations came together here recently to practice their skills in controlling riots in one of the most realistic training environments anywhere.
After four days of planning and rehearsing, Multi-National Task Force - East and Multi-National Task Force-Central Soldiers from the U.S., France, Switzerland and Austria faced a volatile and explosive test on a mock street corner.
The exercise also used simulated rioters in the form of Irish and Slovakian Soldiers from MNTF-C. But, that's where simulation ended and realism began for this action-packed training exercise.
"It was an excellent opportunity to exercise our crowd-and-riot-control equipment and tactics against opposition other than our own," said U.S. Soldier 1st Lt. Robert N. Peleschak, Medina, N.D., of MNTF-E's 231st Maneuver Task Force. "It was good and aggressive training, so it gave a first-class opportunity for the Soldiers to get a feel for a more aggressive crowd."
The rioters aggressed as the first element, the U.S. contingent, pushed back on the "angry mob" to give them resistance. The French Soldiers followed as the U.S. Soldiers pushed the rioters farther back.
2nd Lt. Jamer C. Morrow, Fargo, N.D., a platoon leader with the 231st, held his Soldiers steady as the French took control of the frontline and quelled the erratic behavior of the crowd.
"Basically, we were tasked to move the rioters to the first obstacle at that point the French would take over from there," Morrow said.
The different countries worked together to safely put down the demonstration before it led to even more violence. The Soldiers used what assets they had to protect themselves, the person next to them and those who chose to lash-out with violence.
All the while, fires raged, fists flew and explosives slammed around them.
"I think it is important because we learn how other countries do riot-control training, and by watching them, we notice things that they may do better," Morrow said.
The role-playing ended with a medical evacuation of a Soldier with simulated injuries using a UH-64 Blackhawk helicopter provided by Task Force Aviation of MNTF-E at Camp Bondsteel.
With all the moving parts during the exercise safety does become a concern, but observer/controllers (O/C) were present in the action. Their job was to closely watch for any hazards that may arise during the training.
"I was responsible for the safety of both the opposing force and the Soldiers. I would review the safety manuals and ensure all the leaders were aware of the safety precaution during the exercise," Sgt. Gareth R. Almberg said, Grand Forks, N.D., an O/C provided by the 231st MTF.
The exercise drew many other Soldiers from the different MNTFs to observe the action.
Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., commander of MNTF-E, was on hand to watch the multi-national coordination executed by the many nations here.
"I had an opportunity to watch these multi-national Soldiers work together, sweat together and discover new ways of doing things from each other today," he said. "I am proud to see, not only my Soldiers, but Soldiers from other task forces coming together to test the skills that help provide the people in Kosovo a safe and secure environment on their way to a brighter future."
Multi-National Task Force - East is a U.S. led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This task force is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine). The charter mission of MNTF-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo.
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