CAMP RIGAS FEREOS, Kosovo –The Kosovo Tactical Maneuver element, along with several multinational partners from across Kosovo, participated in a joint Crowd and Riot Control training exercise, Nov. 17, at Camp Rigas Fereos.
Kosovo Forces soldiers from the U.S., Armenia, Greece, Portugal and Ukraine participated in the exercise that was designed to familiarize Multinational Battle Group East with the tactical techniques and procedures of the KTM. It was also intended to familiarize the KTM with MNBG E and how it operates, said Maj. Erick Vega, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, training and operations exercise planner, MNBG E, Puerto Rico National Guard.
The KTM is a unit comprised of Portuguese soldiers who specialize in tactical response operations, said Vega.
“They are the ones who react to riots Kosovo wide,” said Vega.
MNBG E troops from Ukraine and the U.S. played the roles of rioters. The rioters wanted to get past the Kosovo Police, played by Greek soldiers, to get to a simulated prisoner they were holding. The rioters wanted to take the law into their own hands, said Vega.
As the scenario continued, the rioters got more and more rambunctious and the KP had to call in the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo as reinforcements. The role of EULEX was played by Armenian troops, said Vega.
The rioters started to throw water bottles and try to break through the line, said Vega. When the demonstrations began to escalate and become more violent, KFOR was called in to assist.
The KTM arrived on the scene in four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters piloted by U.S. Soldiers with MNBG E. The KTM soldiers had to go through some training prior to the exercise, said Portuguese 1st Sgt. Vitor Fonseca, KTM.
“Aviation training is conducted with the supported units to ensure they know how to safely board and exit the aircraft the day before each exercise. This allows us to ensure everyone is given the proper egress procedures for the aircraft they will be flying on,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Bearden, Keller, Texas, liaison officer and Blackhawk pilot, Task Force Aviation, MNBG E, Arkansas National Guard.
The KTM formed a blockade to help keep the rioters from breaching the line. Ground reinforcements then arrived with vehicles that would help in providing a physical barrier, said Portuguese Lt. Sergio Marques, commander of land forces, KTM. The combination of CRC personnel and vehicles creates a moving barrier between a violent crowd and their target.
“It’s better than a wall because it moves with you and helps contain the situation. It also means that we can operate with fewer men on the front line,” said Marques.
The KTM is ready to respond to any CRC situation anywhere in Kosovo, said Fonseca.
“These soldiers are very professional at what they do. They train very hard, and are committed to providing a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement to the people in Kosovo,” said Vega. This is the first time the KTM and MNBG E have conducted an exercise together.
“Our plan is to build a stronger relationship with the KTM and to perform more training exercises with them,” said Vega.