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MSgt McMuster

US Announces Joint Training Exercises with Kosovo Security Force - Defense Daily - March 15th, 2021

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Bruce Mathews for Defense Daily

March 15th 2021


The Department of Defense released a brief Monday Morning stating representatives of the United States Special forces community will be leading joint training exercises with Kosovo's military, the Kosovo Security Forces.


This development marks a significant warming in US and broader NATO relations with the small Balkan nation as the first instance of technical support since the termination of the UN-mandated, NATO Peacekeeping operation (Kosovo Force or KFOR) in the region in 2015 which had remained in place since 1999 as part of the NATO intervention in the Kosovo war.


DoD and State Department representatives have not been forthcoming with details about the size of the force that will be working with the KSF or acknowledging the seeming about-face in favor of the nation, when asked for comment, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated, "Kosovo has been and remains to be a Major Ally of the United States and NATO since their recognition in 2008." And stated that the purpose of the operation is to "trade valuable skills relevant to maintaining national security learned from the conflicts of the past decade."


Analysts familiar with the matter have suggested that the US reopening material relations with Kosovo is a response to the increasingly revanchist sentiment growing within the struggling state of Serbia. The Republic of Serbia was a belligerent in the Kosovo war and has rejected recognition of the country's sovereignty since its independence gained from the defunct state of Yugoslavia in 1999.


There is a growing international concern that these tensions may lead to border conflicts that could quickly escalate into a crisis. Sources say a US presence in the region could have a cooling effect on the tension and give pause to any party that would undertake any action that may lead to conflict that would put US lives in danger and lead to a provocation with the United States, while others have suggested the training exercises are the beginning of a deepening relationship between NATO and Kosovo and may be the first step towards a permanent peacekeeping force being re-established in the country or towards full NATO membership that could be seen as a threatening advance by non-aligned state actors in the region.


Bruce Mathews is a Washington-based Researcher and Analyst focused on Russia-US relations and Security in the former Warsaw Pact, he is a fellow with Brighton International, The Brighton Foundation's center for global security research.

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