We are members of the Army National Guard currently deployed to the province of Kosovo with Multi-National Task Force (East), or MNTF (E). Our task force is made up not only of the National Guard, but the Army Reserve, the active Army and the Air Force. We come from various parts of the United States, including Virginia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and 23 other states. We are what is called boots on the ground Soldiers. We are here. We are witnesses to what is happening in Kosovo, so what was published in the American Legion magazine in July of 2007 created the need for us to reply to the inaccuracies.
The American Legion Magazine ran an opinion piece in the July issue by a New York comedienne named Julia Gorin, whose writings have been published in a number of conservative publications, including Front Page Magazine and National Review Online. She is also a contributing editor to the Jewish World Review. Ms. Gorin may be a funny lady, but her commentary is filled with wild accusations, inaccuracies, distortions and downright lies that serve only to hurt our peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and shed a negative light on the Soldiers who are carrying out said mission.
Ms. Gorins accusations include, but are not limited to:
A Serb a day is killed in Kosovo.
Kosovo Serbs live inside barbed-wire, NATO-guarded perimeters, beyond which they dare not venture.
When shot by Albanians, NATO troops are directed to flee rather than fight back.
Serbian nuns continue to be killed.
Serbian churches and monasteries are destroyed.
Albanians call U.N. and NATO occupiers and want them to get out.
I can initially tell you that a Serb being killed a day is not just a ghastly exaggeration, but an erroneous allegation, says Sgt. Tara Vayda, an intelligence analyst at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. According to Vayda, the worst ethnically-motivated violence that has occurred here during our stay in Kosovo has been Kosovo-Albanian teens throwing rocks at Kosovo-Serbian-associated busses or a Serbian elderly couple.
While throwing rocks at people or busses is not an activity one would call desirable behavior on the part of the Albanian teens, it certainly does not constitute the murder of a Serb every day. Ms. Gorins claim is exactly what she denies it to be an exaggeration at best and a downright lie at worst.
Our mission in Kosovo is to maintain a safe and secure environment in our area of responsibility in order to provide the stability that allows local governmental institutions to address and resolve the issues of self-governance and service to their residents, and to allow those residents to live their lives free of the fear of past conflicts, says Col. Steven Scott, the Deputy Commander of Civil Military Operations for MNTF (E).
We do this with a boots on the ground presence everywhere in our sector; young Soldiers building and maintaining relationships with local leaders, shop owners, teachers and students, and folks going about their daily routines. We do this by engaging civil leadership and assisting them in their attempts at solving the vast problems they face every day. We do this through humanitarian assistance, whether improving infrastructure, or distributing the many, many donated goods we receive from our families and friends.
According to Col. Scott, the Soldiers work to provide reassurance to the people of Kosovo that bad things won't happen to them, and they work very hard to keep that commitment.
That's why the accusations hurled by Ms. Gorin in her article are so appalling and insulting to our Soldiers. Her implication that 200 Serbs have died on our watch is absurd.
Members of the Joint Implementation Commission in Kosovo have a special mission. They work with the Serbian Armed Forces to enforce compliance of the Military Technical Agreement and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. They operate along the Administrative Boundary Line between Kosovo and Serbia proper (or Uza Serbia, as the Serbs call it).
Their mission takes them throughout the Multi National Task Force (East)s area of operations, and they encounter people from all walks of life. They have been guests at the homes of both Serbian and Albanian citizens of Kosovo. Not one member of the JIC team has ever seen Serbian enclaves surrounded by barbed-wire, NATO-guarded perimeters.
In most of the province, Kosovo Serbians are free to leave their enclaves, drive to their destinations, take vacations and walks. As a matter of fact, part of KFORs mission here in Kosovo is to ensure freedom of movement of all people who live here.
Orthodox Chaplain, 1st. Lt. Michael Wikstrom has traveled throughout Kosovo and has developed relationships with the religious leaders of the Serbian Orthodox community. He concurs that in the MNTF (E) area of operations, no concentration camp-like conditions exist. He says the vast majority of the province is perfectly safe for Kosovo Serbs to live and travel. He does see some areas of Kosovo where Serbian Orthodox priests and nuns could not travel alone....
It is difficult to say where Ms. Gorin is getting her erroneous information, or whether shes simply using her rather fertile imagination as a substitute for checking facts. However, her claims of what, in essence, are NATO-run concentration camps are simply untrue.
...and it goes on and on.
American soliders in Kosovo are calling Julia Gorin an out and out liar.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call her a “out and out liar”. IMO, she has legitimate concerns. However, I admit that she may be relying on outdated and/or exagerrated data for her statements. If so, she risks hurting her credibility and risks people not listing to the points she wants to make.
BTW, the article links below seems to contradict what Nicki Fellenzer was saying and they appear to contain more than enought sources to back it up:
BS, Dio! American soldiers are just following orders and saying what they are told to say! Nicki Felzer, who you quoted, works for the Army (Dis)information Office.
My brother-in-law is a retired Army Colonel and was the first CO of the Army Chaplain School when it relocated from Ft. Monmouth to South Carolina. He was also at the Pentagon during the first Gulf War. I know that Army Chaplains do NOT speak freely to the press unless they are under orders to do so! So this "testimony of a Chaplain" is no more credible than any other soldiers' under orders -- they say what they are told to say.
So quit trying to BS people, Dio -- and quit "waiving the American flag" to manipulate opinion when you aren't even an American!