CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Multinational Battle Group East (MNBG E) soldiers participated in a two-part quick reaction force exercise in Radivojc/Radivojce and Karaceve /Karacevo, Kosovo, July 13.
Soldiers from MNBG E’s A Company, 1st Battalion, 296th Infantry Regiment, arrived in Kosovo earlier in the month and recently assumed QRF duties for the battle group’s area of responsibility. The exercise was designed to validate the unit’s ability to respond to several different situations across MNBG E area of operations, said Army Maj. Shayne Simon, exercise planner for MNBG E, NATO Kosovo Force12.
While the exercise was predominately focused on the reaction capability of the 296th, it also included several Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, piloted by soldiers from Task Force Griffin, the aviation component of MNBG E.
“Working aviation into the QRF exercise allowed us to kill two birds with one stone, because we also validated the aviation soldiers in their QRF capabilities,” said Army Master Sgt. John T. Waters, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of event planning.
QRF responsibilities are given to a different MNBG E maneuver element each month, and each of those elements must validate the required skills upon taking responsibility for QRF operations, Waters said.
Two separate scenarios were presented for the exercise. The first scenario involved a riot situation near Radivojc/Radivojce that escalated beyond the capabilities of the Kosovo Police. The KP called back to Camp Bondsteel and requested assistance from KFOR, which activated the QRF.
The QRF soldiers responded to the site of the riot situation within an hour of the time they were called. Upon their arrival, the QRF had an unexpected change in their mission; a simulated vehicle rollover resulting in four injured soldiers.
Medics from the 296th that were in the convoy began treating the injured soldiers within minutes of arriving on the scene. The medics determined that two of the injured soldiers needed to be evacuated by helicopter, and a medevac request was called in to Camp Bondsteel.
At this point, the other two injured soldiers were put into the back of the 296th’s ground ambulance that was in the convoy.
While the medics continued to treat and monitor the injured soldiers, the other soldiers from the 296th established and pulled security around a landing zone for the incoming UH-60 Blackhawk medevac helicopter, which evacuated the two remaining soldiers to Camp Bondsteel for treatment.
Following the medevac, the exercise was ended and the 296th returned to Camp Bondsteel to await their next mission.
“We did what we had to do,” said Army Staff Sgt. Abinael Feliciano, a squad leader with the 296th. “We secured the landing zone and the rollover site pretty quickly. This was our first time doing this here in Kosovo, and I think we did well.”
The second part of the exercise came in the afternoon, when the QRF was called out to respond by air to assist the KP with the simulated abduction of a Montenegro police officer in Karaceve e Ulet/Donje Karacevo, near the administrative boundary line with Serbia.
Two UH-60 Blackhawks, carrying soldiers from the 296th, arrived shortly after receiving the call, and the soldiers immediately dismounted the helicopters securing the site.
Upon landing, the QRF experienced another unexpected change to the mission when one of the helicopters had a simulated mechanical problem, which was addressed and fixed by the crew chief onboard. The exercise ended when the soldiers of the 296th were returned by helicopter to Camp Bondsteel.
“We were sent out for crowd and riot control missions, but things changed,” said Army 1st Lt. Sammy Lugo, a platoon leader with the 296th. “We reacted quickly to the changes, adjusted our plan and accomplished our mission.”
“Exercises like this are a good tool to show our QRF’s ability to react to any threat or situation Kosovo-wide,” said Army Maj. Erick Vega, the exercise planner for MNBG E, KFOR 13.