The NATO forces in Kosovo (KFOR) arrived on June 12, 1999 under
the mandate of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. 43,000 armed
peacekeepers from 30 countries patrol a country the size of Connecticut.
KFORs mission is to maintain a secure environment, confiscate
weapons, and to partner with UNMIK in public works, landmine clearance,
and border security.
Due to current ethnic tensions, KFOR places special
attention on the protection of Serb religious monuments and escorts
the remaining 100,000 Serbs to their daily errands and gatherings.
American soldiers are primarily based at Camp Bondsteel
in the south. Captain William Thompson, Public Affairs officer at
the smaller US base, Monteith, in Gnjilane, took us out for a daily
patrol. He is with the National Guard and is a photojournalist from
We visited an American platoon on patrol in the Serb
village of Silovo, four miles from the Serbian border. Barbed wire
and a Bradley armed personnel carrier protect the
St. Marko Orthodox Church here. Not too far away is a small Albanian
village. I saw a destroyed Serb church and realized that no
one is innocent here, said Captain Thompson. The American
troops hold meetings to try and increase rapport between the Serbs
and Albanians. Some former VJ (Yugoslav army) soldiers live here.
Albanians are afraid of this town. It is not very friendly,
said Sgt. 1st Class Stewart. You need to stare some of them
down. If you look away first, hes got you. KFOR has
been given lists of names of VJ and also nearby KLA soldiers but
havent yet found them. We know they have weapons and
have made it known that we dont want them shooting them,
he said, entering a jeep to begin nightly patrols.