Mankato Guard going to Kosovo

Second trip to Balkans for battallion


Mankato's National Guard unit has been told to expect a one-year mission to Kosovo, where NATO troops still keep the peace nearly a decade after ethnic rivalry left thousands dead.

The 400 soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry received an alert last weekend, spokesman and Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said, and can expect to begin training in Camp Atterbury, Ind., in late June.

The Mankato battalion will lead smaller, company-sized units from across southern Minnesota.

For many in the battalion, this will be a second peacekeeping mission to the Balkans. The unit was deployed there in 2003 and 2004. Some individuals in the battalion have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Olson said there haven't been any large-scale armed conflicts there since 1999. But he said the unit will be trained to recognize and avoid land mines.

The Mankato battalion will conduct patrols to maintain a sense of security and allow the United Nations to stabilize the province.
The Army chooses its schedule for deployment according to its Force Generation Model, Olson said, which aims to give the National Guard five years of training and one year of mobilization.

Kosovo is a province of southern Serbia that is now administered by the United Nations. Thousands of ethnic Albanians are missing and presumed dead after years of conflict there.

Von: 07.03.2007 By Dan Linehan

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