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Thread: 82nd Airborne in Kosovo (2000)

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    Default 82nd Airborne in Kosovo (2000)

    I found this old article from the NYT:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...pagewanted=all

    Inquiry Into Abuse by G.I.'s In Kosovo Faults Training
    By STEVEN LEE MYERS
    Published: September 19, 2000

    More than 800 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, one of the Army's elite fighting units, were sent to Kosovo last year with little training in the subtler arts of policing the streets and preventing violence between ethnic factions, according to an Army investigation into accusations that members of the unit beat and manhandled ethnic Albanians.

    A report released by the Army today on the investigation, which began after a member of the unit was accused of murdering a Kosovo Albanian girl in January, cast a far wider blame for the misconduct than officials had previously disclosed. It suggested that decisions by Army leaders in Kosovo and in the United States had contributed at least in part to violations of ''basic standards of conduct, human decency and the Army values of treating others with dignity and respect.''

    The report accused the soldiers' commanders in Kosovo of displaying a ''propensity toward Serb favoritism'' and an overly hostile attitude toward Kosovo's Albanians. It concluded that they either knew or should have known about complaints that soldiers were using excessive force and mistreating women by groping their breasts and buttocks during searches.

    While the report said the misconduct had been relatively isolated, the most striking finding involved the 82nd's lack of training for an operation that stopped short of what the Army calls ''high-intensity conflict.'' The report said the troops received little peacekeeping training before they were deployed and had not conducted a peacekeeping mission rehearsal exercise.

    As a result, the lead investigator, Col. John W. Morgan 3rd, concluded, the soldiers ''experienced difficulties tempering their combat mentality'' and adapting to the sort of low-level violence and intimidation found between Kosovo's Serbs and Albanians.

    In the report, which was released after the newspaper European Stars and *****es requested it under the Freedom of Information Act, the Army also disclosed that on Sept. 8 the chief of staff, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, had ordered a new review of training, leadership and readiness of the division to address the investigation's findings. He ordered the commander of the Army's Forces Command, Gen. John W. Hendrix, ''to take corrective actions as appropriate'' within 30 days.

    It was not clear why the 82nd's soldiers did not receive more training before being sent to Kosovo for six months beginning in September 1999. Army officials in Washington and at the 82nd's headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., declined to discuss the unit's training, though one official said the division's soldiers underwent all the training required by the Army at the time.

    Army officials said today that all of the 6,000 American soldiers now in Kosovo received specialized training for the operation, but they could not say whether it was more extensive than the 82nd's had been.

    The issue of having some of the nation's most highly trained combat units keeping peace abroad has been a delicate one at the Pentagon and in Congress, and has been raised in the presidential campaign. Many people in uniform argue that elite combat divisions like the 82nd, whose mission is to seek out and destroy enemy forces, are ill-equipped to handle the tasks required by peacekeeping.

    While some military experts argue that the United States should create special peacekeeping units, the military counters that all of its forces have to be prepared for the ultimate war-fighting mission, since operations like those in Kosovo, initially at least, involve the dangerous task of separating warring factions and can spiral back into all-out combat.

    In the 82nd's case, however, it appears that soldiers received little preparation at all for what they would face in Kosovo.

    Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, who is traveling in Asia, released a statement today expressing support for General Shinseki's steps but warning that the Army had to ensure that the misconduct did not happen again.

    ''The incidents described in that report are a source of grave concern and reflect behavior that cannot be allowed to recur,'' Mr. Cohen said.

    The investigation detailed today grew out of the rape and murder in January of an 11-year-old Albanian girl, Merita Shabiu. Last month, Staff Sgt. Frank J. Ronghi, a member of the Third Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne, pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison by a military court.

    The investigation into Sergeant Ronghi confirmed accusations that others in his unit, Company A, had mistreated civilians in the town of Vitina in the days and weeks before the girl's death. The report detailed several incidents in which soldiers beat or threatened Albanian men and indecently assaulted women.

    Last summer, information from the investigative report, which at the time was still classified, was cited often during Sergeant Ronghi's court-martial. Defense lawyers sought leniency by arguing that a ''negative command climate'' -- the exact words used in the report -- had created an highly unstable situation in Vitina.

    Last March, the 82nd Airborne disciplined five enlisted soldiers and four officers for their involvement in the misconduct. Colonel Morgan, the officer who conducted the investigation, had recommended that some of those military personnel face criminal charges at a court-martial, but the punishments meted out involved less severe administrative actions.

    The Army has declined to identify those punished, but officials said today that they included the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Michael D. Ellerbe, and the company commander, Capt. Kevin J. Lambert, whose actions were singled out for criticism in the report released today.

    The report, said Colonel Ellerbe had directed his soldiers to carry out one specific order -- identifying and neutralizing Albanian factions -- that went beyond his superiors' intentions, fostering a climate that led to misconduct.

    ''The unit's overly aggressive tendencies were manifested in practices such as the unit slogan -- 'shoot 'em in the face' -- and their standard operating procedure of pointing the M-4 carbine weapon system with attached maglight in the face of local nationals in order to illuminate their faces,'' the report said.

    ____________________

    I would like to ask if anyone knows more about this? Was this true, how widespread was it and in particular what were some of the reasons and the motives behind it?


    (I am not fishing and am not being judgemental here I am just honestly interested to know more about this, hopefully it is OK...)

  2. #2
    Sapporo Snow Bunny budgie's Avatar
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    As far as I know one murdering pervert who also happened to be a US soldier killed a little girl. He was thrown in jail and that was the end of it. There was no known pattern of abuse.

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    I'm not an Officer Lt. James Anderson's Avatar
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    According to two of my buddies it was true (they were in that same unit when that sick fcuk raped that girl). Why they disliked Albaninas more? Crimes, prostitution, drugs, burning medieval churches ... and doing all that while playing inocent victims. Also they used our presence to terrorize inocent people at will ...

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    Default 82nd

    No offense meant to any army people here, but the 82nd is not a police/para-military-type force. The purpose of this kind of unit is to use maximum force in order to attain their goal. An elite unit, yes, but not trained for operating around civilians.

    I recall reading about the first visit of the 82nd to Afghanistan - there were complaints about them being Rambos towards civilians.

    The way I see it, it is not much use criticising the 82nd for doing what they were trained to do. USA does not have a para-military force, and that could have been one reason why Iraq descended into chaos. Military units are unfit for police-type tasks.

    Now the question arises, what kind of troops would be needed for asymmetrical warfare? A combination of SWAT, peace-keepers and rebuilding/construction/humanitarian forces?

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    Junior Member Deano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walker-69 View Post
    No offense meant to any army people here, but the 82nd is not a police/para-military-type force. The purpose of this kind of unit is to use maximum force in order to attain their goal. An elite unit, yes, but not trained for operating around civilians.
    An excellent point and observation!

    The Infantry Mission:

    [SIZE=3]The mission of the infantry is to close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver to defeat or capture him, or to repel his assault by fire, close combat, and counterattack. [/SIZE]


    Infantrymen are trained to the point that battle drills become habit and an immediate reaction. I've seen soldiers so exhausted that they are basically sleep walking, and then execute a perfect response to a threat.

    Yes, normally there are train-up periods that encompass peace-keeping operations prior to deploying if that theater calls for those types of operations, they can be extensive training sessions, but it's very difficult to "un-learn" basic Infantry tactics. This not only applies to 11 series soldiers, it covers the spectrum of combat arms MOS's.

    Walker-69 has a very valid point and question. Rapid deployment Infantry should have one task, and one task only; to take and hold ground. Unfortunately, today's Army must be highly flexible and be able to switch from combat to peace-keeping with very little notice or reaction time. There's simply not enough of the military to have a second set of troops conducting peace-keeping operations specifically.

    In an ideal military, the combat arms MOS's would not cross-train.
    Last edited by Deano; 08-11-2008 at 01:38 AM. Reason: grammar

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    I'm not an Officer Lt. James Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walker-69 View Post
    I recall reading about the first visit of the 82nd to Afghanistan -there were complaints about them being Rambos towards civilians.
    BS (I was there). You will find those types everywhere in every unit. It all depends how well the chain of command understands mission and how well it makes sure it gets implemeted correctly. Yes, when we got there it took a while to get used to that type of mission, but we did all right in the long run.

    And about the type of mission, I was told different ... Not a military task, but only military can do it. The problem arises when (incompetent) people think that the fight against the insurgency can be won through use of military force only. Getting population on your side is equally important to both, the insurgent and counterinsurgent.
    Last edited by Lt. James Anderson; 08-11-2008 at 09:50 AM.

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    Default Thanks and question

    All righty, I respect your experience and opinion. My purpose here is not to do any finger-pointing or judging, and I would be curious to hear more about Afghanistan - but maybe somewhere else than this thread. I have actually met one Afghan refugee who used to be a translator for American forces, it is theoretically possible that you have also run into the same guy. He is a very nice guy.

    Now, I will chuck a question at you (or anyone else who is involved). This is a wild guess, this is not, repeat not a conspiracy theory ( I am not at all into conspiracy theories). My question is:

    Could the 82nd have been there in Afghanistan for the purpose of familiarizing them with that area for future operations? The 82nd have been there again, after the year 2000, but right now I can't remember the details.

    I brought up this idea a couple of months ago and there were some feathers ruffled. But I am not trying to provoke anyone here.

    The Pashtun area extends beyond Afghanistan's borders to the east. And to the south, there is an old enemy of USA. The whole region could flare up sometime in the future. Feel free to answer in a private message if you don't want to bounce this thread to the top of the list all the time.

    Edit: Preparation is of paramount importance. The Russians were very well prepared for what happened in Georgia: that doesn't make them conspiracists, that makes them smart.

    "Those who prepare... survive"

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    I'm not an Officer Lt. James Anderson's Avatar
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    Maybe he's a nice guy I don't know. Most of the people there are pretty cool, imo, except the ones shooting at you (they might even be nice people who knows, I never cared to find out lol). Whether I ever met him, I don't know. We had some interpreters but I don't even remember their faces or names anymore and it was only a few years back.

    As for you question, doesn't every war serve that purpose? If much is really learned is another matter. The higher up the chain you go the less is learned. The "little guys" learn but they leave after a few years and all that hard earned knowledge is lost (as was the case with my company ... half of us left, the better half if you ask me).

    The Russians were very well prepared for what happened in Georgia: that doesn't make them conspiracists, that makes them smart.
    The Russians are like us. Too many times they had to repeat the same lessons they learned (even mastered) a long time ago. Like fighting in Caucasian mountains and Afghani mountains or fighting the urban battle in Stalingrad and Grozny ...

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    The Professor Lokos's Avatar
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    Preparation is of paramount importance. The Russians were very well prepared for what happened in Georgia:
    Actually, the opposite is more likely true. Even now Russian numbers in-theater are barely on-par with Georgia's Land Forces. The initial response was no more than two or three moto-rifle brigades, and some insubstantial air support sorties. This was confirmed to me when news reports came out late on the 10th that the Russians were boosting their presence to 9,000 combat personnel. In truth, the Russians responded with what they had on-hand. Not the best that they had available. If they had been truly waiting for this exact scenario, better formations would have been employed. Like the 131st Moto-Rifle Brigade (an all-professional outfit), which is in Maikop, I believe. The 58th Army is not of enormous quality...

    Lokos

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    I would like to ask if anyone knows more about this? Was this true, how widespread was it and in particular what were some of the reasons and the motives behind it?
    When KFOR entered Kosovo there were some incidents, I guees some more ironic than others.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1999/sep/07/news/mn-7568

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    Exclamation

    I was with C-CO 3/505 PIR, 3rd BDE 82nd in Afghanistan in 2002. Our brigade was the first on the ground from the deuce' in Afghanistan. I'm pretty sure we were the first battalion from the 82nd on the ground as well. We relieved 187th from the 101st (oddly enough, my current unit).


    I can tell you for a fact, that the complaints weren't really valid. I read the newsweek that came out in the fall of 2002 about us, and due to what I read, and specifically the mis-representation of us, I haven't purchased or read another one since. I don't take offense to your question. From what I have been able to find, we didn't really get alot of attention while we were there, other than that article. Hence my thread looking for pics of us.

    I have also known some guys who were alittle closer to the Kosovo incident, but I don't know much. I feel like the press gave the whole division a bad rap over that, when it was only 1 guy involved. Soldiers are like any other group of people. If you look hard enough, you will find your sickos, etc. I just wish they'd look at us as individuals, rather than blaming the whole group rather than the responsible individuals.


    Also, if there is anyone on here that was in the 505th for the 2002 Afghan trip, drop me a line.

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