CAMP VRELO, Kosovo – U.S. and Turkish soldiers with Multinational Battle Group East took part in a massive two-day Crowd and Riot Control training event, Sept. 24 and 25, hosted by MNBG Center, with representatives from MNBG E, Kosovo Police and European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).
The scenario for this exercise had MNBG E soldiers working together with KP and EULEX to provide security for a Property with Designated Special Status (PrDSS), an area or institution under special KFOR protection.
To help ease the coordination between KP, EULEX, and KFOR, MNBG E’s Joint Law Enforcement Liaison Team, comprised of Maj. Gonzalo Vargas, Caguas, Puerto Rico and his deputy, Command Sgt. Maj. Angel Alvarado, Coamo, Puerto Rico, were on site to relay information quickly between each unit. Both are members of the Puerto Rico National Guard.
The event was also an opportunity for the KP, EULEX, and MNBG E to work together with their CRC capable forces against a group of mock “rioters.” The “rioters” were comprised of soldiers from Sweden, Slovakia, Finland, and Czech Republic.
Safety and training go hand in hand, so to provide the most realistic training scenarios opposing force soldiers are used to enhance KP, EULEX, and KFOR CRC training. Swedish Army 1st Lt. Richard Turner, Stockholm, Sweden, was one of several observers tasked with mitigating injuries.
“Our main focus on safety in this exercise was to avoid hard physical contact in the form of batons and striking,” said Turner. “Also, water bottles were used to simulate rocks or other scrap to safely add to the realism.”
The exercise began as a small crowd attempted to gain entry to a PrDSS site where a KP CRC-capable force monitored and ensured a peaceful gathering.
Slowly, more “rioters” began to arrive and the situation grew more violent through the course of the exercise, which prompted the KP to call for support from EULEX.
At this point, KP and EULEX worked together to push “rioters” back from the PrDSS site to a safe distance. Working in unison, the KP and EULEX calmed the growing crowd.
MNBG E had a tactical command post on site, whose intent was to coordinate with JLELT. This team was commanded by Lt. Col. Jose Boria-Cruz, Juncos, Puerto Rico, deputy commander of MNBG E.
“This kind of exercise should be done often as it tests the communication and coordination between KFOR and local law enforcement to further ensure safety and security and freedom of movement within Kosovo,” Boria-Cruz said.
Eventually the “rioters” grew more violent, at which time KP and EULEX called KFOR for assistance.
MNBG E’s Turkish forces arrived first to drive the “rioters” from the PrDSS site and reinforce the KP and EULEX forces. MNBG E’s Turkish Coy is commanded by Turkish Army Capt. Hakram Ozkubat, Istanbul, Turkey.
“As MNBG E combines with MNBG C, this exercise has helped us become familiar with this area of operation and soldiers,” Ozkubat said. “Every time we take part in exercises similar to this we learn other nation’s tactics, which helps us to become better trained for real-life scenarios to ensure safety and security in Kosovo.”
The “rioters” were split into two groups, with KFOR pushing back one group and KP and EULEX pushing back the other. This joint effort proved effective, as the crowds quickly began to disperse.
Alpha Co., 1-296th Infantry of the Puerto Rico National Guard assisted the Turkish Coy to end the well-executed exercise.
“The past two days has allowed MNBG E and MNBG C Soldiers to familiarize with each other’s techniques and to continue our seamless union as a combined battle group,” said. Col. Francisco J. Neuman. “However, more importantly, KFOR had the opportunity here to continue expanding our relationship with KP and EULEX to closer step towards a brighter future in Kosovo.”