Kosovo sends troops on peacekeeping mission for first time

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A Kosovo Security Force (KSF) member wearing a face mask salutes, during a peacekeeping mission deployment ceremony held at the army barracks in Pristina, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Kosovo is sending a military platoon to Kuwait, its first ever involvement in an international peacekeeping mission. A ceremony was held Tuesday at the army barracks in the capital, Pristina, with the presence of top country leaders and western military attaches. Kosovo is sending the military unit following a request from the U.S. Central Command. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA – Kosovo on Tuesday sent a military platoon to Kuwait to take part in the country's first ever international peacekeeping mission.

A ceremony was held at the army barracks in the capital, Pristina, in the presence of top leaders and western military attaches.

“It’s extremely important because 22 years after the war, we’re not just importing peacekeeping troops, we’re also exporting them,” Acting President Vjosa Osmani said.

Kosovo is sending the unit on a six-month tour following a request from the U.S. Central Command. Its troops will be under the command of the National Guard of Iowa.

The Defense Ministry said the Kosovo unit “will operate under the Central Command of the American forces responsible for a geographic zone, including the Middle East, part of South Asia and Northeastern Africa.”

No specifics on the exact location in Kuwait or the number of Kosovo peacekeepers to be deployed were made public. A platoon of 32 soldiers was seen lined up during the ceremony.

Kuwait and the United States have a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement and approximately 13,500 U.S. forces are based in Kuwait, primarily at Camp Arifjan and Ali Al Salem Air Base. Since 2004, Kuwait has been designated as a major non-NATO ally.

In a video conference call, Maj. Gen. Ben Correll of the Iowa National Guard hailed Kosovo’s contribution to preserving global peace and security.