You are here
The NATO Kosovo Force: 18 Years Strong
On the heels of peaceful municipal elections promoted by OSCE and safeguarded by NATO, I made my first visit to Kosovo as the newly appointed Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples. For 18 years, a U.S. Navy Four Star has commanded JFC Naples, responsible for the Kosovo Force (KFOR), charged with the mission of maintaining security, stability, and peace operations in Kosovo. The hospitality in Pristina was incredible and I appreciated the opportunity to see firsthand what NATO is doing in Kosovo.
Italian Army Major General Giovanni Fungo, Kosovo Force Commander (KFOR), and over 4000 uniformed service members from more than a dozen nations lead the peacekeeping effort every day. During candid discussions with Major General Fungo and during my visit here, I was able to see for myself why our mission is successful. Simply put, fully trained, ready, and capable troops—who understand the importance of our mission—make it possible. And what better measure of success than peaceful democratic elections!
On 22 October 2017, more than 2000 NATO-led KFOR service members provided a safe and secure environment during elections in which 19 municipalities elected a mayor in proportional representation—peacefully. No violence, a testament to the continuous cooperation of national leaders and civil institutions to improve their democracy.
The mission here has integrated with the rich culture. I had the pleasure of meeting with Father Sava at the 14th Century Decani Monastery. In our discussions, we agreed that peaceful coexistence amongst all ethnicities in Kosovo is in the interest of every citizen. The coexistence must be thoughtfully maintained through collaboration and education. For example, two members of the Kosovo Security Force are studying as four-year cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
This trip also marked my first meeting with the Deputy Secretary General Mrs. Rose Gottemoeller and a re-acquaintance with the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee General Petr Pavel.
Understanding how our NATO troops interact and operate in operational conditions allows for us to make the right command decisions and provide insight on how NATO and the North Atlantic Council (NAC) can further contribute in Kosovo.
Strengthening the "bridge” between the diplomatic and military sides of NATO can make a major difference. It allows us to understand each other’s goals, wants and needs to accomplish the overall mission. Being able to meet each other in our current roles and exchange thoughts and ideas has helped to solidify our ability to aid one another.
Overall, my experience in Kosovo was rewarding! I was able to see firsthand how our KFOR operates, meet key players in the decision making process and get to know my forces a bit better. Sharing this experience with Mrs. Gottemoeller, General Pavel, and the NAC reaffirmed to me that we are in fact, one team, #WeAreNATO.