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Operation Sleigh Ride: Cal Guard keeping the peace in Kosovo

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Members of the 3-140TH Aviation Battalion in Stockton, Calif., participated in Operation Sleigh Ride as part of a Joint Operations exercise in Kosovo. Task Force Aviation is composed of member from California, Arkansas, South Carolina and Hawaii is known locally as TF-CA$H. TF-CA$H is currently depoloyed to Kosovo in support of UN Resolution 1244.2013.
Breaking squelch at 1500 feet, Sgt. 1st Class Rapp, the Taskforce Aviation noncommissioned officer in charge for KFOR16, coordinated the landing of six aircraft from four different countries to deploy 114 troops in support of joint air-to-ground operations in the Potok Valley, Kosovo.
On Jan. 9, 2012 Task Force CA$H represented by aviation units from California, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Hawaii participated in Operation Sleigh Ride at Camp Sparta in western Kosovo. Operation Sleigh Ride demonstrated the ability of Multinational Battle Group-East to quickly respond to hostile demonstrations and maintain a safe and secure environment for the people of Kosovo.
Working as the pickup zone controller, Sgt. 1st Class Rapp directed aircraft from the U.S., Croatia, Switzerland, and Slovenia onto the Landing Zone at Camp Sparta. Aircrews quickly deployed more than 100 troops who joined with ground forces from Multinational Battle Group-West to conduct riot control training.
This joint exercise lasted more than four hours and was represented by unit from Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Greece, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia and the U.S. Operation Sleigh Ride highlighted the strength of the multinational coalition working under UN Resolution 1244.
In a display of strategic excellence, Sgt. 1st Class Rapp also coordinated the tactical egress of both troops and aircraft upon completion of the exercise. Each aircrew pulled troops out of the area in reverse order, while remaining aircraft flew overhead providing notional air support.
First Lt. Engel, the Task Force Aviation Signal officer in charge, said, “Despite extreme cold and inclement weather, Sgt. 1st Class Rapp executed his mission flawlessly. He is a tremendous asset to the unit and the battle group.”
Each of the six aircraft participated in a total of 22 different flights, and “the level of professionalism displayed by all countries was remarkable” said Sgt. 1st Class Rapp.
This exercise is evidence that no matter how difficult the mission, “KFOR stands ready to deploy quickly and take positive control of any given situation.”
The four hours of riot control training was as intense as it was exhausting. At the end of the day, participants from MNBG-E and MNBG-W formed a large circle on a soccer field where they shared a few words, shook hands, and parted company.
Each one knowing Operation Sleigh Ride was success on many levels.

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