CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Infantry Marines with Company G, 2d Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment deployed to Kosovo July 18 in support of Operation Rapid Guardian 2002.
The Marines joined other NATO forces already taking part in peacekeeping duties and aiding in the return of Kosovar Albanian refugees to their homeland.
U.S. military presence in Kosovo began in 1999 due to disagreements between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs. In March of that year, NATO began Operation Allied Force against Serbia and Montenegro. As a result of the military campaign, Serbian military forces evacuated Kosovo and efforts shifted from combat to peacekeeping operations.
According to Maj. Alex J. Waugh, executive officer for Company G, the Marines have joined in the effort to maintain good order and discipline in a country full of hatred. He said it is the company's mission to support the United Nations resolution and ensure both the Albanians and Serbs abide by their commitments to one another.
The company's deployment comes after only six months of being activated and assigned to 2d Marine Division. Waugh said the company, out of Dover, N.J., knew of its activation just one month in advance to relocating here, which allowed little time for training. Waugh said the unit has "stepped up the pace" since being reactivated.
"For the past six months we've had many things going on all at the same time," said Waugh. "From going to the field for three days each week to a Commanding General's Inspection, we have constantly been on the go."
Waugh said the majority of the Marines are police officers, firemen, and college students, which makes the company very entrepreneurial. He added that being reservists and not conducting Marine Corps training day in and day out has not slowed them down. In fact, being reservists possibly provides them an advantage.
"Because these Marines have a professional life outside the Marine Corps, they allow their civilian life experiences to generate unique solutions to all challenges," said Waugh, a Hockessin, Del., native. "If something needs to be done we have someone to fill that position. Our Marines don't wait for commanders to dictate solutions. They realize the problem and take charge. We just give them the commander's intent and they move forward."
Waugh said the Marines in Kosovo are assisting U.S. Army troops with conducting security patrols and providing border security to ensure legal entry into the country. He said from intelligence reports, there are a lot of mines in the area, and the company has completed a lot of training to defend themselves against the threats they may encounter.
"We've been going over different scenarios in order to prepare ourselves for the unexpected," he said. "We don't expect this to be an easy task, but we're really excited to be participating in a real operation. We have raised our level of professionalism, and we intend to get a lot out of this deployment."