The 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade cased their colors Friday in a ceremony on Fort Bragg in preparation for their nine-month deployment to Kosovo scheduled for next week.
The brigade’s headquarters and 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment will make up the first active-duty unit deployed to Kosovo in 10 years.
Soldiers in the unit said they are excited to relieve the South Carolina National Guard from its peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.
“It’s good to keep peace; make sure everything is all right in other countries,” said Pfc. David Bradshaw III, a Lightning Brigade Soldier. “I feel great about it.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl Lyon, the brigade’s command sergeant major, said they were selected because of their unique assets and capabilities as a cavalry squadron.
The unit trained extensively for peacekeeping operations, said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hester, 1st Sqdn., 38th Cav. Regt. The training included situational training exercises, live-fire training and engaging the population of surrounding towns to understand how agencies operate.
“We spent a lot of time understanding the political structures that are going on in the area, how they compete with one another, identifying those friction points and really getting into the human dimensions of what’s happening on the ground,” said Col. David Woods, the brigade commander.
Soldiers say the training has helped them gain confidence in their abilities to succeed in peacekeeping operations.
“I feel like I’m ready to go. I’m really excited about going on this mission,” said Spc. Jabill Barnes, 525th BfSB.
The unit’s first stop when they deploy will be in Germany where they will conduct a training capstone, said Woods. The exercise will serve as a culmination of all their training thus far designed to stress the unit’s systems and Soldiers.
The purpose is to build confidence in the effectiveness of their training, as well as reveal fractures that may exist, said Woods. Addressing areas of weakness prior to arriving in Kosovo will allow the unit to polish its procedures.
The unit will join multinational forces to support Kosovo force’s mission of supporting the development of a stable, multi-ethnic, democratic and peaceful Kosovo.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn how the other armies train, how they operate, how they think and how they solve problems,” said Hester.