|Rapid Guardian II' Begins in Kosov|
'Rapid Guardian II' Begins in Kosovo
Washington D.C. -- (ANS) July 11, 2001 -- U.S. troops from Germany and Italy deployed to Kosovo for an exercise this week as American soldiers already there continued their confiscation of weapons on the Macedonian border.
A training exercise named "Rapid Guardian II" began July 10 as about 200 soldiers from the Army's Southern European Task Force (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy, parachuted into the British sector of Kosovo.
The exercise is designed to test the U.S. European Command's capabilities to quickly deploy forces into the region, officials said.
On the ground, the soldiers will participate in training and orientation patrols with soldiers already in the region, according to officials. They said the operation is expected to last about 10 days.
U.S. soldiers already in Kosovo last week seized a large quantity of weapons near the Macedonian border.
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division inderdicted five horses laden with weapons July 6 in a mountainous area of Kosovo near the border.
While patrolling along suspected smuggling routes, soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment interdicted five personnel traveling with five pack animals over mountainous terrain approximately four kilometers south of Sasare along the Kosovo and Macedonian border in the early morning.
As the soldiers drew near, the suspected National Liberation Army members, dressed in dark clothing, panicked and fled. But one of the suspects was captured, along with the five pack animals heavily laden with weapons.
"Over the past several weeks our soldiers continue to enjoy success with these interdictions," said Maj. Randy Martin, spokesperson for MNB(E). "KFOR remains committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment in Kosovo."
The captured pack horses were weighted down with 23 anti-tank weapons, six 9mm rocket launchers with rockets, 25 AK-47 assault rifles, 43 rocket propelled grenades, 19 small rockets, 100 40mm high explosive rounds, one 9mm magazine with ammunition, one 90mm recoilless rifle with eight rounds of ammunition, one 7.62mm magazine with 29 rounds of ammunition, 51 flares, three cell phones, miscellaneous clothing, medical supplies, food, cigarettes and other paraphernalia.
"This was a significant interdiction. We caught them as they were headed for the border," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Chaney, squad leader for 2nd Plt., C Co., 2nd Bn, 502nd Infantry. "Our soldiers are working hard to stop the spread of violence along the border. At least these weapons won't fall into the hands of the NLA."
The suspected NLA member was sent to the Camp Bondsteel detention facility and the horses were relieved of their load and set free, officials said.