KFOR command in Pristina has announced that new US troops in Kosovo will replace soldiers whose mandate had expired.
A statement said that the upcoming deployment of US soldiers represents regular handover of duties between two contingents from the United States, which are being rotated, not an additional contribution by the United States, RTS reported.
On Tuesday, Belgrade-based daily Blic reported that “analysts said the US announcement of sending an additional 130 troops to Kosovo to support KFOR and NATO was a message to warmongering politicians in the region.”
The troops in question are members of US special units of the Tupelo-based 1st Battalion, “highly trained for emergency response,” Blic said.
They will arrive in Kosovo after preparations in Fort Hood in Texas, where they are “learning Serbian and Albanian” and “becoming acquainted with the Balkans,” according to the article.
“When they arrive in Kosovo will be deployed as part of KFOR aviation units that use UH 60 Black Hawk helicopters and will stay for 10 months,” wrote Blic.
Analyst Dusan Janjic told the paper that this is “more a political and security than a military message of the US.”
“In this way, Americans are clearly telling local politicians not to play war any more and are making an operational return to the Balkans. Their assessment is that they had left this region for too long to Turks, NATO and Europeans. They also believe that the Balkans is in danger of terrorism. This means that they will not leave this part of Europe with unresolved issues of Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also that they will try to reduce Turkey’s influence in the region,” said Janjic.
Professor at the Faculty of Security Zoran Dragisic also thinks that additional US troops are needed due to increased tensions in the Balkans.
“The fall of the government and the upcoming elections in Kosovo have caused disturbance within the Albanian population, which makes Serbs additionally threatened. That is why this assistance to KFOR is welcome, and it’s a reason to rejoice that this is a unit of the strongest military force in the world,” said Dragisic.
According to BLic, similar opinions are held by political analysts from Kosovo. Imer Mushkolaj sees the arrival of US troops as a response to the political situation in the region and the threat of terrorism.
“Tensions are present in Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo, and therefore the move of the United States expected. Kosovo is an American investment and certainly the United States will not allow it to go in an unwanted direction. Also, terrorism threatens across Europe and this is an additional form of security,” says Mushkolaj.
Dragisic says that “US help is a clear message that there the Kosovo Army will not be established.”
“The stance of the whole world on this issue is clear and the dissatisfaction of Albanians is even greater because of that,” said Dragisic.