GUARDIAN The official magazine of Multinational Battle Group East
Volume XV Issue 2 February 2012
Whatâ€™s Inside GUARDIAN the
The Guardian is produced for personnel of Multinational Battle Group - East, and is an authorized publication for members of the Department of Defense.
Keep on Rucking Page 5
Contents of the publication are not necessarily the official views of the United Nations, U.S. government, the Department of the Army, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 157th Maneuver
3/108 CAV Soldier Becomes U.S. Citizen Page 7
Record Snowfall at Bondsteel Page 8
Enhancement Brigade, or MNBG-E. Commanding Officer Col. Jeffrey J. Liethen Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley J. Shields
The Taxman Cometh Page 9
Public Affairs Officer Capt. Joy Staab 172nd Public Affairs Detachment Editor Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
MNBG E Tests MEDEVAC Skills Page 13
KFOR Ski Competition Hits the Slopes Page 14 & 15
Gjilan Edges Past KFOR in Hoops Action Page 16
Broadcast Journalists Staff Sgt. Jason Alvarez Spc. Nathan Rivard
About the Cover Soldiers from Multinational Battle Group East took part in the DANCON march Jan. 8, a 25-kilometer march hosted by the Danish Army. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner) GUARDIAN the
From the Commander
Be Proud of Accomplishments Already Achieved
or those of you that have deployed more than once, I think you’ll recognize that many of us are experiencing what is known as the “Two Month Funk.” It’s a state of mind commonly seen in a combat zone… a wee bit of melancholy mixed with feelings of repose, seasoned with a longing for home, friends and family.
The “Funk” normally comes along when the excitement of being in a strange land wears off, we become comfortable in our new jobs and we finally get settled into our daily routines. By no means is this state of mind a cause for alarm; rather, it is a normal deployment phenomenon easily overcome by celebrating our accomplishments and refocusing our efforts on the way ahead to victory. Although not clearly evident to everybody, we are truly making a difference in Kosovo. Just think back to the difficult situation we inherited upon our arrival in late November. Multiple roadblocks hindered not only our ability to resupply troops in the north, but more notably, they prevented freedom of movement for the people of Kosovo.
In an effort to restore freedom of movement and provide a safe and secure environment, we have increased our presence at Gate 1 in the north and have overcome challenges to provide our soldiers with the supplies necessary to accomplish their mission. Fuel, water and food were the first supplies to arrive, followed by tent heaters, daily hot meals and improved latrine and shower facilities.
Through dialogue and building relationships we have helped restore and maintain freedom of movement along many routes, and I believe our continued efforts will result in more success.
The relationships we have built and continue to build upon have significantly shaped the environment around us. We have worked closely with the Kosovo Security Force to mentor, assist and train them. The upcoming “Friends” field training exercise and ongoing staff exchange program Col. Jeffrey J. Liethen MNBG E Commander will provide us with additional opportunities to work with our counterparts, share our knowledge and learn new skills.
Additionally, we are working with curriculum administrators at the Kosovo Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology in an effort to improve the history and social studies professional development programs for classroom teachers. The intent is to provide a train-the-trainer workshop series in order to sustain teachers’ professional development for teaching history and social studies in Kosovo’s public schools.
You should feel proud of all the great things we have accomplished since we arrived here. It has taken perseverance and dedication… something I know you each possess. I expect things will get busier as the weather warms up. Meanwhile, stay focused, stay safe and stay motivated.
Hertling Visits Camp Bondsteel
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, commander, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, left, meets U.S. Army Spc. Macario Uribe, assigned to Multinational Battle Group East's Task Force Medical, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Jan. 10-11. The general toured camp facilities and talked to Soldiers throughout the battle group as part of his visit. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joy Staab)
Be, Know, Do: Focusing on the Basics of Leadership
eadership – As we embark on a new direction in the Army, I believe it is an opportune time to revisit our leadership skill set. Our effort over the past 10 years was directed on our tactical effectiveness and execution of those responsibilities. Does our current leadership tool box have the necessary tools to deal with the Soldier challenges we are presented with today? Leader effectiveness is measured by our Soldiers and how they respond.
The core components of leadership have remained the same and start with the individual leader. A personal inventory of our character, values and attributes will ensure we are in line with those of our Army. 'Army Leadership begins with what a leader must BE-KNOW-DO' - a phrase we have heard for many years and taught in our basic NCOES courses. I would like to talk about each, to provide a basis for our self-evaluation.
to our continued success. The Soldiers we lead continue to change, and we must adapt our leadership style and enhance our skill set to be effective. This does not compromise our expectations, only causes us to re-evaluate how we achieve them. How our Soldiers respond and achieve our goals is a Command Sgt. Maj. measure of our effecBradley J. Shields tiveness. Leadership MNBG E CSM styles in many cases have a shelf life on them. Frequent selfevaluation and honest leader evaluations on NCOER’s are tools for improvement.
BE – Leadership begins with what a leader must be! Values and attributes (mental, physical, and DO – Although we may have all the tools and emotional) shape a leader’s character, the internal know all about being a leader, this leads us nowhere qualities that make us who we are. There is no disunless we apply what we are and know. Leadership tinction from on duty includes our ability to to off duty, and they communicate effectively. are with us all the time. Not only our written and "Our effectiveness will always be With our Army Values, oral skills, but or listenmeasured by our subordinate's success.” ing skills. Talking is easy this is the foundation of our leadership. Our for leaders, but to listen Soldiers look for a role and understanding are model, and leaders to set the standard! Show them by the keys to effective communication. Credibility as example what right looks like. The Army values and a leader is developed through these skills and the attributes apply to all leaders, as we take on a sigfollow up with our subordinates. Once we communinificant role in the development of our subordinates. cate, the commitment as a leader is not over until we Do we have the character necessary to fulfill the role close the loop with follow up as necessary. Motivatwe have accepted as we examine ourselves and our ing through our actions and reactions, guides others subordinate leaders? towards accomplishing the mission. We motivate others in part on our presentation of the mission/ KNOW – Does not just encompass textbook knowl- task. The decisions we make must involve sound edge, but is an understanding of the application judgment, logic and utilizing the tools available to and understanding of that knowledge. It includes accomplish the mission. interpersonal and conceptual skills. Understanding situations and Soldier issues, and how to identify Our move as an Army to get back to the basics and resolve at the lowest level. Identifying situais contagious. Improving our individual physical tions before, or as they develop. Relationships with readiness, soldier discipline and education are in the subordinates and our senior leadership, as interperforefront. The time is right to re-evaluate our indisonal skills affect how we deal with people. Coaching, vidual skill set as a leader, and take action to adjust teaching, counseling, motivating and empowering fire based on past success and failures. For if we fail are key components that define interpersonal skills. to do that, we may be left behind as our Army drives Do we seek opportunity to improve our skill set, or forward. Our effectives will always be measured by are we satisfied with our level of effectiveness? The our subordinate’s success. Our interpersonal skills real answer is in the effectiveness our skill set. Selfand core values and attributes will be the foundation improvement and continued development is critical of our leadership. February 2012
Keep on Rucking
DANCON March Tests MNBG E Fitness story & photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
oughly 300 soldiers from 15 countries participated in the Danish Contingent (DANCON) March, a recurring physical fitness test and social gathering-in-one that had participants hiking over and around the hills of western Kosovo Jan. 8.
The grueling 25-kilometer march hosted by the Danish Army is designed to foster good physical condition and as a social event for multinational armies to meet their counterparts.
Participants must carry at least 10 kilograms on the 25-kilometer march, a taxing affair in the best of conditions. The fitness aspect is important, but the overall goal of the march, according to event coordinator WO2 Asger Filso, is to get soldiers throughout Kosovo Forces (KFOR) together to bond.
“The purpose with DANCON is to arrange a social event for all soldiers,” he said. “It’s a break from the normal work day, where people can have a good time, talk and meet new friends.” Fewer people participated in the recent DANCON march compared to previous marches held in warmer summer months, when organizers normally field 500-700 participants.
For this march, freezing temperatures met participants when they weighed in their packs and registered, while snow and ice dotted the landscape and provided a challenge for marchers on some of the rougher terrain.
Several MNBG E soldiers help Kosovo local civilians push-start their car.
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Bushee changes into a dry pair of socks at the halfway mark of the march.
U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Brewer, a member of
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KFOR soldiers walk by a group of fellow participants taking a break to change socks. February 2012
continued from previous Page Multinational Battle Group East’s S-6 section, said he jumped at the chance to take a nice walk through the woods and came away impressed by the efforts of other soldiers who took part in the march.
“I really started feeling the 14kg on my back after eight miles,” he said. “Those soldiers who had 30-50kg, and were cruising past me, were really impressive. The DANCON is a worthwhile challenge and I am looking forward to the next one.”
The Royal Danish Army hosted the first DANCON march at Cyprus in 1972 as a way to build esprit-deU.S. Army soldiers from the Georgia Army National Guard corps among the different nations participating in joke around to keep warm in the chilly pre-dawn air. combat action and was later incorporated into other deployment zones where the Danish army was stationed - Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The first DANCON march in Kosovo occurred in 1999.
Host duties transferred to the Danish National Homeguard in 2011, and their goal is to hold the march every 10 weeks.
Successful completion of the DANCON march nets participants a certificate of completion from the Danish army and the DANCON medal.
The proceeds from the march, which costs 20 Euro, are donated to veteran’s homes in Denmark. According to Filso, approximately 10-12,000 Euros are raised in Kosovo every year.
Members of the Danish Contingent process registration paperwork and hand out fruit prior to the start of the march.
story & photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
ultinational Battle Group East’s newest U.S. citizen, a supply sergeant from the Georgia Army National Guard, was congratulated with cheers by his fellow Americans at a naturalization ceremony in the Medal of Honor Hall, Jan. 20.
With the words, “I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Staff Sgt. Rodrigo Mondaca, assigned to 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, formalized what’s been he has been proving through his actions the past 13 years as a member of the Army National Guard.
It’s been a long and winding road to U.S. citizenship for the 36-year-old Mondaca, who moved to the U.S. from Chile in 1983. His mother, who was originally from the Easter Islands, brought the sevenyear-old a year before being joined by his father, a captain in the Chilean marine corps. Mondaca eventually made his way to Euharlee, Ga., where he has lived the past 10 years with his wife and four children.
Mondaca said, the staff judge advocate office would have done all the paperwork for him, but as a member of the Guard, he had to submit and track it all personally. It’s a process he has wanted to do for years, but never completed until recently. It takes a lot of paperwork, he said, and every time he would start the process something would come up that would prevent him from continuing with the process.
After the required paperwork has been submitted and approved, would-be citizens must take a written English and civics test and conduct an interview with someone from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS), formerly the Immigration & Naturalization Services (INS), which falls under the Department of Homeland Security.
The test itself would stump U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rodrigo Mondaca, a supply sergeant with the Georgia Army National Guard's many who are Americans by 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, takes his birth, such as: “in what year citizenship oath. was the Constitution written?”
The payoff is that he is now a citizen of the United States, officially a member of the country he has been serving for more than a decade. With the process complete, he had time to reflect on the importance of that fact.
or “who elects the President of the United States?” (“1787” and “electoral college,” respectively).
According to Pamela Hutchings, the USCIS official that administered the naturalization oath, nearly “Citizenship is something a lot of people take for 65,000 military members have become U.S. citizens granted,” Mondaca said. “If you were from a thirdsince 2001. The agency granted citizenship to 11,146 world country, you could appreciate it - it’s a big deal.” service members in fiscal year 2010, the highest number in any year since 1955. Citizenship confers him some tangible benefits, not the least of which is the right to vote for elected It’s a Congressional mandate the oath must be officials like the president or travel abroad freely. As administered within six months of final approval, a military member, Mondaca said it opens doors - he making it a requirement she travel from her headcan now get a security clearance, which is only avail- quarters in Austria, but she considers it an honor and able to U.S. citizens. a pleasure when she can swear in a new U.S. citizen. And although his wife and children couldn’t be here Only individuals born in the U.S. are automatically for the ceremony, she said, his peers were on hand to awarded citizenship, and becoming a naturalized U.S. help him celebrate the occasion. citizen is a time-consuming process that normally takes about two years to complete. As a member of “Even though your first family isn’t here,” she the U.S. military, Mondaca had to meet citizenship said as she looked out at the large crowd of Georpre-requisites and submit the application forms gia ANG Soldiers in attendance, “your second himself. If he was a member of the active duty forces, family is out here in force.”
White Out at Camp Bondsteel Record Snowfall Drops Almost 3 Feet January 2012 is one for the record-books, with two snow storms accumulating 31 inches of snow during a two-week span, according to weather experts at Multinational Battlegroup East's Task Force Aviation weather section.The snowfall Jan. 21 accounted for 10 inches, while the blizzard Jan. 25-26 dropped 21 inches.
Acording to the aviation element, which has been keeping tabs on the weather since 1999, the record snowfall for one month is 21 inches, with no more than seven inches falling in a 24-hour span.
U.S. Army 1SG Douglas Lofreddo stares up at accumulated snow slowly melting off the roof. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joy Staab)
U.S. Army Sgt. Terry Morris, Task Force Medical, shovels snow out from under an ambulance. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
U.S. Army Spc. Tong Her, military police patrolman, stops a vehicle during the snowstorm. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joy Staab) February 2012
The MNBG E "weather rock" is 100-percent accurate when judging outside weather conditions. Here, it correctly indicates snowfall. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joy Staab)
Sasha Sokolovski, senior paralegal specialist, goes over a Soldier's tax information as he prepares a tax return.
Tax Returns Made EZ
story & photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
he stress of filing your 2011 state and federal tax returns just got a lot less stressful thanks to a service provided by the Command Judge Advocate’s office.
While Soldiers have an automatic exemption from filing taxes until they return from deployment, getting it done now relieves one of the many concerns while overseas, according to Sasha Sokolovski, senior paralegal specialist.
“It’s a valuable service, something Soldiers can do to get this important annual requirement completed and out of the back of their minds,” he said. “It’s one less worry because they have a lot on their minds.”
Sokolovski has been helping U.S. Multinational Battle Group East Soldiers prepare and file tax returns since 2000, showing them the best way to navigate the often-confusing requirements and exemptions of the Internal Revenue Service.
There are several changes to the tax code Soldiers need to look out for this year, Sokolovski said, such as a slight increase to standard deductions and exemptions; the end of the Making Work Pay refundable tax credit of $400 per taxpayer; and some changes to the mailing addresses to file state and federal returns.
Also of note is the tax return filing deadline, which is April 17 this year because the normal April 15 deadline falls on a Sunday. The following day, Monday, is Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C. Sokolovski will prepare and electronically file or paper mail 2011 tax returns throughout the year, as well as tax returns that
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attorney authority. He recommends the Soldier’s spouse fill out and sign IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, which doesn’t require a notarized signature.
need to be filed for the previous four tax years. He requests Soldiers bring the following when they arrive: W-2 forms for all income sources; any applicable IRS Forms (dividends, interest earned, etc.); correct names/social security numbers for all claimed dependents.
If Soldiers are filing jointly with their spouse, Sokolovski said they will need to have power of
he Equal Opportunity (EO) office will conduct an educational contest and learning experience that is intended to heighten awareness of the DoD mandated Special/ Ethnic Observance of African-American/Black History Month in February.
The contest will run the entire course of the month of February, with a ìgameî format featuring prizes awarded at the end of each week. The rules of the educational contest are as follows:
Each day after 1600 the EO office will put out a Historical Question of the Day that pertains to African-American/Black History.Contestants may call EO office at DSN x5341, check their EO board or contact their respective unit Equal Opportunity Leader (EOL) to receive the Historical Question of the Day.
Contestants may contact any of the other listed EOLs to receive the Historical Question of the Day.
Contestants will need to research answers and provide them to the EO office by e-mail or dropping them off in person at Bldg 1330, Room 1, or by calling. E-mail is preferred because it allows the EO office to confirm winners by the date/time stamp, especially in close contests.
Contestants may check their respective unit's information boards where EO materials may be posted for clues/answers. However, the guaranteed method of getting answers will be through thorough research.
Contestants who answer all questions correctly the earliest for each day will be declared the weekís winner. Winner announcements will be made at 9 a.m. during Karaoke Night (Fridays) at the South Gym.
Winners will need to be present to win and have their pictures taken. Pictures will be posted on EOL information boards amongst other places of high visibility. Prizes for a week without a declared winner will be added to the following weekís prize. The EO office will be the final authority on all conflicts that may arise.
From the IG
'Don't Look Over Shoulder' A Good Attitude to Take
ne of my previous mentors taught me a lesson many years ago. It was called “Don’t look over your shoulder.” His observation was that when you are about to say something that you should not, you will instinctively look over your shoulder to see who is within earshot.
Maj. Daniel Hanson Inspector General
Either it is something that is a rumor, sensitive, a lie, etc… Any way about it, it probably shouldn’t be said.Rumors, lies, and the spreading of sensitive information at a minimum lead to poor morale, lack of trust, and poor performance.
At the extreme, they may lead to wrecked careers, damaged marriages, and a breech in security. There is probably little or no good that ever arises from a discussion of this sort.
The take home message is the next time you feel your head involuntarily swiveling over your shoulder, close your mouth. There is probably something that is about to come out of it that should not.
Wait until you can think of something to say that will compliment somebody, strengthen your organization, or better the world around you.
'Question of Day' Contest Tests EO Knowledge
Sokolovski is taking appointments Monday through Friday in the Command Judge Advocate office from 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m., and recommends Soldiers call DSN x5087 or email him using his address found in the Outlook Exchange address book.
Your Job Back Home Protected While Deployed
s deployed National Guard Soldiers we need to know our rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA, 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301 – 4335). USERRA is a federal law intended to ensure that persons who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other “uniformed services:” (1) are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; and (3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service. An example of employment discrimination is passing an employee over for promotion because he or she is a servicemember or because an employee has temporarily left employment to serve his or her country. USERRA also prohibits a civilian employer from preventing a servicemember from serving in the military or performing voluntary or involuntary duty.
Additionally, USERRA provides employers with certain protections by requiring servicemembers to notify them when they will be returning to work following military service and limits the time in which the servicemember has to return to work following deployment.
In this article you will learn about some of the specific rights that you have as a deployed National Guard Soldier and what you must do in order to protect those rights.
Upon returning to civilian employment following your KFOR 15 deployment, there are a few requirements that must be met in order for you to receive the reemployment protections under USERRA:
1. You must have held a civilian job before deploying. There is no requirement for an employer to offer you a job if you did not have one with that employer before you deployed. This job reinstatement provision does not apply to temporary jobs or to independent contractors.
2. You must have given advance notice of military service to your employer. If your employer does not know where you have been for the past year, don’t expect your job will be waiting for you when you get back. Notice should be given in writing so there is a record that you gave notice to your employer.
3. Your period of military service must be less than five cumulative years while working for your
4. Your characterization of service must be honorable or general under honorable conditions. USERRA’s protections do not apply if you receive an other than honorable, dishonorable, or bad conduct discharge, or if you were AWOL and dropped from the rolls.
Maj. J. Blair Ward
Command Judge Advocate 5. You must report back to work in a timely manner. The length of military service determines the timeframe in which you must report back to work. If your period of military service exceeds 180 days, you have 90 days under USERRA to submit an application for reemployment with your employer following release from active duty. This time period starts on the day of discharge stated on your Form DD214. You should give your employer written notice of when you will return to work so that your employer can plan for your return.
If you meet all of these requirements, you are entitled to protections under USERRA. These protections include:
1. Prompt Reemployment. Depending on the length of your deployment, this may not need to be the same job that you held prior to deployment, but it must be an equivalent position and pay grade.
2. Training. If you are no longer qualified for your position because of your absence due to deployment, your employer must make reasonable efforts to train and qualify you for the position that you held before deployment or for an equivalent position.
3. Seniority. You accrue seniority with your civilian employer even though you are deployed. Upon reemployment, your seniority will be calculated as if you never left. For example, if you deployed for 1 year and had 6 years of seniority at the time you deployed, you would have 7 years of seniority when you return to work following deployment. This is important for many businesses where seniority is used to calculate raises, vacation days per year and retirement benefits.
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4. Health Insurance Coverage. If you were covered under an employer health plan prior to deployment, your employer must promptly reinstate health insurance coverage for you and any previously covered family members as if you never left employment. 5. Job Protection. One significant right that many may not realize is that upon reemployment following deployment for more than 180 days, you are given limited protection from termination for a period of one year.
Many employees are considered “at will” employees which means an employer may terminate you for any reason or for no reason. However, for one year after returning to your job following deploy-
ment, your employer may only terminate you “for cause.” This does not mean that you cannot be terminated from employment, but it does mean that your employer may only terminate you due to misconduct, tardiness, insubordination or other conduct that violates the employer’s work rules.
If you have issues with your employer, the primary point of contract for USERRA-related matters is the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) at 1-800-336-4590 or (608) 242-3169 and http://www. esgr.org/site/
USERRA contains other protections and limitations and each servicemember’s situation is unique. If you have questions and would like to speak with a Judge Advocate, you may contact the JAG office at DSN 781.4575.
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No Routine Trips When Driving Kosovo Roads The challenge is that nothing about driving in Kosovo is “routine.” The roads and cities of Kosovo are loaded with hazards that you must be aware of and avoid. Constant vigilance will help you avoid unnecessary accidents.
Only three days before our Transfer of Authority we had a minor vehicle accident that could have been avoided. Since then, there have been several more accidents that could have easily been avoided. The common denominators in these accidents have been following distance and speed. With the unpredictable road conditions, slower speed and increased following distance will help us
thing around you at all times.
Safe driving practices are even more critical now as we get deeper and deeper into winter. The snow and ice on the roads are a significant hazard to be aware of.
Maj. Peter Kitzhaber Safety Officer
avoid more accidents. Many of you remember the video portion of the safety briefing during in-processing, which showed examples of driving in Kosovo. That video was a typical example of narrow roads, pedestrians and cars passing with oncoming traffice just ahead. You need to look around 360 degrees and be aware of every-
Conditions on the road can and will change in an instant. Throughout the winter the temperatures will hover around freezing. That means the snow that falls today will become ice on the roads tomorrow due to thawing and refreezing.Take time to practice driving in an area with ice and snow. Make sure you have tire chains and have practiced putting them on before you need them.
If you wait until you need them, then it’s too late. Practice these safe driving tips and techniques and we will make it through this winter safe and intact.
FOR 15, we’ve arrived safely into Kosovo and have begun settling into our routine.
MNBG E Tests Winter MEDEVAC Skills
simulated nine-line medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) request call to the battle desk set the wheels, or in this case rotors, in motion when Task Force Aviation and Task Force Medical Soldiers conducted a training exercise, Jan. 24.
For the exercise, National Guard soldiers from the Georgia-based 3rd Squadron, 108th Calvary Regiment, North Dakota-based 1st Squadron, 112th Aviation Regiment and Wisconsin-based 2nd Squadron, 238th Aviation Regiment along with the 3274th U.S. Army Reserve Hospital evacuated and provided medical treatment to two injured soldiers – one with a spinal injury and another with a gunshot wound to the thigh and hypothermia.
“The purpose of the MEDEVAC exercise was to ensure our Aviation TOC and MEDEVAC detachment always stays sharp with MEDEVAC procedures,” explained Maj. Joseph Bradley, the Task Force Aviation Operations Officer who planned the surprise exercise. “It’s important to always keep a pulse on our capabilities and even though the winter weather has reduced our flight training, there is no reason to become complacent in the event we have a real MEDEVAC mission.”
After receiving the evacuation request, participants began executing the procedures necessary to get the injured victims to Camp Bondsteel, which included determining grid coordinates, assessing weather conditions and requesting flight approval. “The primary objective of any MEDEVAC mission is to get to the patient as quickly as possible and do it safely,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Pete Bassatt, a pilot on the mission. “But in order to do that we need a certain amount of minimal information and everything takes time.”
“A situation we ran into today was definitely the weather,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brent Gomez, the pilot in command during the exercise. “Once we were able to take off we realized the weather was deteriorating and that’s when we had to change the mission to a different LZ [landing zone] to allow us to continue on with the mission. An LZ with heavy snow presents a challenge to land the helicopter safely.”
When they landed, medics went out and evaluated the casualties, evacuated them by litter and returned to Camp Bondsteel where emergency room staff was standing by at the helipad. Emergency room staff rushed the patients inside and doctors, nurses and medics immediately began treating the patients.
“We were given a call that patients were coming in on a helicopter and everyone we needed was alerted,” said Staff Sgt. Marsha Mullins, a medic on duty during the exercise. “We got the patients in and treated pretty quickly, and at the AAR [after action review] the doctors told us we keyed in on what they were hoping we would.”
For some, the exercise enforced skills they already possessed. Others, such as Spc. Andrew Plummer, a combat line medic assigned to the 3-108th CAV cross-training at the hospital, learned new skills and took away valuable knowledge to use in the future. “The exercise provided a better understanding of how the emergency room works, because I’ve never worked in an emergency room environment before,” said Plummer. “Working in the ER has been a wonderful experience that has totally opened my eyes to working in a different part of the world of medicine.” “This exercise was a surprise to our soldiers,” said Bradley, “but it proved to me we are more than capable to launch a MEDEVAC safely and at a moment’s notice.
story & photos by Capt. Joy Staab
MNBG E medics provide medical attention to a patient during a training exercise at Camp Bondsteel, Jan. 24.
by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
its t h
espite high winds that shut down the higher slopes on the first day, spirits weren’t dampened for competitors participating in the 2012 Kosovo Forces (KFOR) Ski Competition Jan. 31 - Feb. 1 at Brezovica Ski Resort.
Overall fastest time went to Croatia’s Drazen Coric with a time of 35:10 in the giant slalom event, with honors going to the top finishers in four categories: women, males 18-35, males 36-45 and males over 40. Representatives from 15 different countries took part in the ski competition, for a total of 112 participants.
U.S. Army Spc. Ryan Nuernberg, skiing for the first time since graduating high school, found the experience a once-in-a-lifetime blast.
“I didn’t know if I would still have the skill set to go from a small ski hill in southeast Wisconsin called Sunburst to a mountaintop at 8,000 feet,” he said. “It is sort of like riding a bike; the main difference I could see from skiing in Wisconsin compared to Kosovo is the breathing at high altitude.”
As in battle, weather threw the most carefully-laid plans out the door on the first day of the competition. The original plan was to have qualifying heats on the first day with the finals the second. However, high winds shut down the ski lifts leading to the upper range over safety concerns, forcing event planners to fall back on a single-elimination
slalom run based on best individual time.
With high winds cancelling the competition on the first day and a forecast for up to three feet of snow, it seemed Mother Nature was going to have the final say.
Everything turned out for the best in the end, however, according to Irish Army Col. John Hammill, the ski competition organizer.
“Despite the unfortunate weather conditions, which resulted in driving snow and temperatures going below -20 C, the competition took place very successfully,” he said. “All participants enjoyed themselves in both the ski and apres-ski activities, and it was an excellent opportunity to meet personnel from many different countries.”
And the winners are...
Men Over 40
See a photo montage of the ski competition on the next page
U.S. Army photos by Capt. Joy Staab & Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
Gjilan Edges Past KFOR
Djuan Welton drives the ball against the Gjilan defense during the game.
missed call resulted in two free throws that tied the game at the end of regulation, giving the Gjilan All-Star team the time needed to edge past the KFOR All-Stars, 67-64, in Gjilan, Kosovo, Jan. 28.
With 1.4 seconds remaining in the second half and the score 55-57 in KFOR’s favor, Gjilan’s Ukshin Demi was fouled as he went up for what would have been the game-winning three-pointer. Demi scored on two free throws but couldn’t seal the deal with the third after another player on his team committed a key foul, tying the game and sending it into overtime. A look at video of the fouled shot shows, however, that Devin’s toe was over the three-point line as he made his last-second shot. If called, Devin would have only been able to shoot twice, one of which was fouled, that could have given KFOR a one-point edge and the win.
“In a full court, fast paced basketball game, it is impossible for one referee to catch every call and try to be as fair as possible to both teams,” said Djuan Welton of the KFOR All-Stars. “I believe the volunteer referee we had from Camp Bondsteel did an excellent job, and it would have been nice to have one more person giving him assistance.”
Despite the loss, KFOR’s All-Star team led throughout much of the game, led by top scorers Rontayne Butler and Dequincy Francis. And it’s a definite improvement over their last outing against the semiprofessional Kosovo team last week, where they were shellacked by the Gjilan squad. Butler said their first scrimmage against the Gjilan team the week prior was “brutal” getting used to the cold (the gymnasium isn’t heated), the speed of the game and the height of the opposing team’s players.
“I think we did pretty good, considering we don’t play basketball probably as much as they do,” he said of the first official game. “It was competitive; there’s some differences, how we’re used to playing and how they’re used to playing. I don’t know if we’re going to play another game, but if we do, we’ll be ready.”
The KFOR team, made up of Multinational Battle Group East soldiers and civilian employees, has had little time to play as a team leading up to the recent matches. After only several weeks, the results are starting to show.
Gyltekin Selimi, coach of the Gjilan All-Stars, said KFOR’s team played very well and were well-organized for the game.KFOR’s squad seemed to take the Gjilan team by surprise after a relatively easy win in scrimmage the week previous. After a scrimmage that showed little defense by the KFOR team, they came out Sunday with a priority on defense and slower attack on offense caught Gjilan’s team flat-footed in the first half, one the team managed to overcome before the final buzzer.
story & photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
Rontaye Butler passes the ball to Dequincy Francis during the game.
Swirling winds in SEA Hut corridors result in interesting snow drifts at Camp Bondsteel. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joy Staab)
Winter Wonderland in Kosovo
Camp Bondsteel at night after the snow finally stops falling, with the lights showing off the stark beauty left in its wake. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Eric Okeson) PAO is looking for photos of your experiences in Kosovo for possible inclusion in The Guardian. Email your submissions to SFC Jim Wagner in Global or call x5204.