By Julia Gorin
After my article “The ‘Successful War’ we Lost in Kosovo” came out in this month’s American Legion Magazine, I received a letter from an American soldier who deployed there last year. He was stunned that anyone was talking about Kosovo, even more that someone was aware of the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Kosovo and of the jihadists passing through there freely. “With all the attention on Iraq,” he told me by phone, “everyone underestimates this region. No one understands that what happens here will play a key role in European security for the next 10 [or more] years.”
Following is the most recent of a series of letters from this soldier, revealing the devastating effects on our troops when the United States allies itself with Iran and al-Qaeda in a given area. In the coming days, he has promised to send additional letters that will demonstrate our troops’ confusion about their mission in Kosovo -- something that NATO troops have been grappling with since they first arrived in Kosovo in 1999.
Letter One: “If the Albanians Rise up to Fight Us”
I was about to write you, more lovely news...terrorists, "myth or reality"? There's some more [Albanian] terrorists in our AO [area of operations] now and apparently a VBIED [vehicle-borne improvised explosive device], those nasty things that drive around and then go ka-boom. My friends and I are asking ourselves "are we on the right side?" This isn't pretty. If I were to put a time frame on this, I'd say we've got a month before something really bad happens. And Bush will have another war on his hands…We shouldn't have meddled with someone else's problem.…
My friend was making a video for the end of the deployment and was asking me a bunch of questions, for a lot of them, I was at a loss for words, because I can't really say what I feel due to the fact that the people back home want us to believe in the mission here, as well as our command, and I couldn't bring myself to say anything, even if it was B.S. My friend, the sergeant, just laughed, he thought it was an appropriate response.
I look around me and I do see a lot of soldiers who still really don't have a clue about this place and what can happen, and I wonder how they'll react if something does happen and bullets start flying…I had this discussion with some of my friends who've been in combat. If something does happen, how will our command react and perform? I'm going to take a big risk here, but I'm going to tell you something because I think it's important. We're not in any kind of shape to deal with an insurgency, if a sufficiently sized one arises. There are (reported) 16,000 KFOR/NATO troops garrisoned here. How many of them do you think are combat arms (infantry, cavalry, scouts, snipers, special forces)? The average infantryman in the U.S. Army has about 60 people, roughly, who support him. That's just for the U.S. Now, that was something I remember from Basic Training that my drill sergeant told us. What about our allies? It is rumored that we have a QRF (quick reaction force) of a couple large units that can come to our aid, but how long do you think it will take them to get from Western Europe to us on short notice, realistically, due to the two fronts we have in Afghanistan and Iraq?
I talked to my roommate about this, [a] Gulf War veteran. He told me it wouldn't last long, but that's naive. He fought against a conventional military in a conventional conflict that lasted no more than 100 hours on the ground. Look at Vietnam, Rhodesia, other parts of Africa, and of course the war we are fighting now. We would fight guerillas who know the terrain, are professional fighters and have fought in the Balkans for a good portion of their lives, and have had years to watch, study, and case us and our allies. They know our rotations, our equipment, our capabilities, and our shortfalls. I'm not a strategist, but I know enough about military history and strategy to know that we'd be against superior odds, perhaps not numerically but definitely when it came to knowing the terrain and fighting skills/techniques. All it would take for these guys to put a hurt on us would be simple hit and run tactics and to implement the same fighting techniques of the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Chechnya. Scary thought, right? The Confederacy held the Union for almost six years with poor arms and equipment simply by motivation (their will to fight for their cause) and knowing the terrain. We took on the greatest army in the world in our fight for independence and won by the same two factors, knowledge of terrain and will to fight. These people are no different.
Here's an interesting question for you. If the Albanians rise up to fight us, do you think we'd find ourselves allying with Serbia to put down the insurgency? Do you think they'd offer their help? Something I'm curious about, a friend of mine asked me that. I'm glad that there is someone out there that is interested in hearing what we have to say and wants to hear our side of the story. I think it needs to be told. Especially if things happen, someone needs to know how this all began and how we were thrown into it. It's kind of funny that I say this as I remember the lines from a Spartan, "Go and tell them that here obedient to their laws we lie". Well, I better get to work. I'll be around for a little bit before the fun begins. Take care, and I hope all is well back home.
An anonymous U.S. soldier in Kosovo