California Guardsmen Train for Kosovo Deployment

By Army Sgt. Sheila Holifield
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP SHELBY, Miss., Dec. 12, 2008 - Nearly 100 California National Guardsmen are preparing for a deployment to Kosovo in the spring, where they will serve as the NATO Kosovo Force's quick-reaction force.

Members of the 1-185th Combined Arms Battalion from Bakersfield, Calif., arrived here to train with their M2 Bradley fighting vehicle.

"Over 50 percent of our soldiers have prior deployment experience to a combat zone doing this type of mission, so we know what to expect," Army Capt. Michael Riley, commander of Company A, 1-185th CAB, said.

Riley said the soldiers can draw from their prior deployment experiences when interacting with the local population.

"We understand cultural sensitivity, and no matter where you are being deployed to, that is important," Riley said.

Although the unit's soldiers are not new to the deployed environment, Riley said, this particular mission will be challenging in its own way.

"Our focus is to help our soldiers understand current battlefield parameters and adhering to their current standards," Riley said. "It's not easy for an infantry soldier to transition out of that mode and into a more 'friendly' role, and still be able to transition right back to being an infantryman."

Upon their arrival here in late November, the soldiers focused on Bradley gunnery training.

"It's just like qualifying with an individual weapon, but we also have to qualify as a crew," Riley said.

Riley said 100 percent of his soldiers qualified.

In mid-December, the 1-185th CAB will travel to Camp Atterbury, Ind., where they will continue their mobilization training for the Kosovo deployment.

(Army Sgt. Sheila Holifield serves in the 177th Armored Brigade public affairs office.)

*Related Sites:*
California National Guard  [ ]
Kosovo Force  [ ]
California Guardsmen Train for Kosovo Deployment [ ]