Monday, July 5, 2010


I wish I could change the order of these last two posts.  The technology required is beyond me.
I suggest you read the next entry before reading this one.
It is a letter from the United Kingdom Association of Gypsy Women concerning the ongoing situation of the Roma/Ashkali in Kosovo.
In the letter, Rachel mentions the United States Base, Camp Bondsteel, located in Kosovo.
The contrast between the lives of these on the base with those in the camps is almost unfathomable.
You can visit the camp for a 'virtual tour' on their "OFFICIAL WEBSITE".

I've asked them to make room for the Roma/Ashkali

Official Homepage of Camp Bondsteel

Camp Bondsteel

The United States agreed to provide a force of approximately 7,000 US personnel as part of the NATO KFOR to help maintain a capable military force in Kosovo and to ensure the safe return of Kosovar refugees. The US supports KFOR by providing the headquarters and troops for one of the four NATO sectors. The US also provides personnel, units and equipment to other components of the KFOR organization.

Camp Bondsteel [CBS] is quite large: 955 acres or 360,000 square meters. If you were to run the outer perimeter, it is about 7 miles. Bondsteel is located on rolling hills and farmland near the city of Ferizaj/Urosevac. There are two dining facilities at Camp Bondsteel: one in North town and one in South town. The food is very well prepared and there are always a variety of main and side dishes to choose from. There are also salad bars, potato bars and multiple dessert offerings. Due to General Order #1, only alcohol-free beer is served, but it is better than nothing! There are set hours for meals, but each dining facility also has a 24-hour section for sandwiches, coffee, fruit, and continental breakfast items.

Soldiers live in SEA (Southeast Asia) Huts. There are about 250 SEA Huts for living quarters and offices. The buildings have five living areas that house up to six soldiers each. Each building has one large bathroom with multiple shower and bathroom stalls. A few buildings have smaller bathroom facilities as well. Female and male sea huts are separate. The beds are comfortable and each room has its own heating/air conditioning unit. Soldiers get their own wall-locker for personal storage, and most opt to purchase a small set of plastic bins for additional storage. You can buy almost anything from the PX to make your living space more comfortable, such as TVs, DVD players, coffee makers and sound systems. Rooms are routinely inspected to make sure they adhere to fire and safety codes. The best way to improve the safety of your room is to purchase an approved surge protector for European voltage, and plug all of your lights and equipment into that. Adaptors are also available so you can plug your 220-compatible devices, like laptops, into the European outlets.

The Bondsteel PX offers soldiers the latest CDs, DVDs, electronics, souvenirs, clothing, uniforms and everything to make your stay in Kosovo comfortable. With two stories of merchandise, the PX draws lots of multinational soldiers from throughout Kosovo. Also located at CBS are Burger King, Anthony’s Pizza and a Cappuccino bar.

There are Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) buildings in North town and South town. The facilities offer billiards, ping-pong, video games, interenet access and a video teleconference room. They also offer movies to check out and watch on several TVs in the MWR facilities. There are a total of three gyms at CBS. Two gyms (north and south) have basketball/volleyball courts, exercise equipment, weight machines and free weights. The third gym is strictly a weight room.

There are two chapels on Bondsteel, North and South, and one on Camp Monteith. All Chapels offer services in several denominations. The Laura Bush education center offers a variety of college courses to suit your needs. Want to learn Albanian, Serbian, or German? Improve your computer skills? The variety of college credit and certificate courses is staggering. There are two colleges represented at US base camps: the University of Maryland and Chicago University. For those with easy access to the Internet, online courses are offered too.

The US sector is in southeast Kosovo. Headquarters for US forces is located at Camp Bondsteel, built on 750 acres of former farmland near Urosevic. Bondsteel has about a 6-mile perimeter. The 1,000-acre camp was built from the ground up on a former field. Basecamps Bondsteel and Monteith were established in June 1999 in Kosovo to be used as staging points for the bulk of US forces stationed in the Multi National Brigade-East. About 4,000 US service members were stationed at Camp Bondsteel in the farm fields near Urosevac, and another 2,000 were at Camp Montieth, near Gnjilane. Both camps are named after medal of honor recipients, Army Staff Sgt. James L. Bondsteel, honored for heroism in Vietnam, and Army 1st Lt. Jimmie W. Montieth Jr, honored for heroism in France during World War II. Camp Able Sentry, located near the Skopje Airport, Macedonia, serves as a point of entry for supplies and personnel into Kosovo. Another 500 Americans support the operation from Camp Able Sentry in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The US contingent is known as Task Force Falcon. There are a number of locations within Kosovo, other than the base camps, at which US soldiers maintain a presence.

US forces entered Kosovo in June 1999 following NATO Operation Allied Force. Since then, military officials worked to rapidly improve service members' quality of life. At the outset, planners wanted to use the lessons learned in Bosnia and convinced decision makers to reach base-camp “end state” as quickly as possible. Because of uncertainty about the Bosnian mission’s duration, when the Army moved across the Sava River into Bosnia in 1995, soldiers were housed first in tents – in the winter! Only years later were they moved to semipermanent Southeast Asia (SEA) huts (a theater-of-operations design that first made its debut in Vietnam) on base camps. Engineer planners knew it was much more cost effective to forego this gradual approach in Kosovo in favor of building end-state SEA huts right away, and operational commanders agreed with this approach.

In contrast to the Bosnia peacekeeping mission where troops lived in tents for many months before moving into hardened structures, DoD decided to erect the SEAhuts from the start. The single-story SEAhut wooden structures were first used in Southeast Asia and then in Bosnia. The military redesigned the SEAhuts specifically for Kosovo. Each wooden structure has a male and a female latrine and six rooms housing six service members each. The huts have heat, hot water, air conditioning, plumbing, electricity and telephones.
You can see pictures and read the rest for yourself on the
Global "official" homepage. 
That's so scary.

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