Operation KOBOLD and the many levels of logistics

Five Canadian Soldiers kneel on one knee in front of a helicopter.
Kosovo - The Operation KOBOLD Task Force (from left to right: Major K. Pruden, Lieutenant-Colonel M. Southorn, Commander A. Thys, Major K. Hjalmarson, and Warrant Officer E. Martel.)

Tags: |

By Dawnieca Palma, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs

Many say success is in the details. Well, a logistician will tell you that there are many details.

Coordinating camps, arranging transportation for equipment and personnel, ensuring arrival of materials, ensuring food and meals. All these tasks and more fall into the domain of logistics, an essential component Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations. Tracking the details is a never-ending task. For the five CAF members deployed on Operation KOBOLD, it’s their specialty.

Day-to-day, they provide logistic and technical support to NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR). They work at the headquarters in Pristina. To name a few of their responsibilities, the team works on engineering and infrastructure projects, custom clearances for KFOR materials, and road reconnaissance reports on supply routes. Every individual deployed on Operation KOBOLD has an important role in supporting freedom of movement, and the maintenance of a safe and secure environment within Kosovo.

“Although we are just a small group of five among approximately 3800 troops here within KFOR, we are strongly relied upon to run and complete many tasks,” says Commander (Cdr) Anthony Thys, Chief of the Joint Logistics Operation Centre (JLOC) in Pristina.

The group applied their logistic knowledge in a recently completed exercise. Under the scenario of civilian protests, forces were deployed to prevent an uprising. Together, KFOR practiced maintaining a safe environment. During this exercise, the JLOC coordinated the different battle groups, which contributed greatly to KFOR’s success.

“It was a good test of KFOR’s readiness to react. The teamwork and professionalism of all the nations that make up KFOR and their ability to work well together was clearly demonstrated as the exercise ran flawlessly without any incident and achieved the aim that it was intended on achieving,” comments Cdr Thys.

Besides day-to-day operations and exercises, they organize meetings and conferences. The most recent example is the National Support Element (NSE) Conference in August. The conference focused on the logistics of KFOR. It provided a space for the majority of the 27 KFOR countries to meet and discuss each other’s capabilities and tasks for the mission more thoroughly.

Organized by Cdr Thys, representatives from KFOR nations built stronger logistical relationships. They gained better understanding of the functions of JLOC and the Joint Logistics Support Group (JLSG) for Headquarters. “It was an informative conference where JLSG and each nation present learned about each other’s capabilities and how each can work together to better serve both KFOR’s mission as well as the needs of the individual nations that make up KFOR,” sums up Cdr Thys.

But these CAF members also serve beyond their logistic responsibilities.

“We are often called upon to review documents and help create standard operation procedure documents to ensure that there are no misinterpretations due to language issues,” explains Cdr Thys. “We have been asked to sit on contract boards, often asked to give presentations, and we also often take the lead or assist in voluntary/volunteer activities, just to name a few.”

The team’s latest project is an upcoming volunteer initiative supporting KFOR’s commitment to protect Kosovo’s ethnic minorities. It is led by Major Kris Hjalmarson, a CAF member and Chief of Information Security, with help from a charity called the Boomer’s Fund. Canadian and Kosovar soldiers will plant trees at a multi-ethnic school in Northern Kosovo. This project aims to demonstrate nations, cultures, and ethnicities collaborating for a common good, while it promotes environmental stewardship.

Logistic support comes in many forms and the Canadians deployed on Operation KOBOLD consistently achieve their varied logistic roles while contributing to other aspects of KFOR’s mission. Cdr Thys says this is not an isolated case. “Canadians have earned a reputation where we are highly regarded for our excellence and strong work effort, a reputation that was earned from previous rotations and one that we, as well as I am sure our replacements will continue to strive to maintain.”

Date modified: