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Ambassador Brown and Montenegrin Ministry of Defense Officials Bid Farewell to U.S. Army Soldiers and Helicopters

Published date: 01.03.2012 16:18 | Author: mod

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On the morning of Thursday, March 1, 2012, Deputy Minister of Defense Ivan Masulovic, U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro Sue K. Brown, and the Chief of General Staff of Montenegrin Military Vice Admiral Dragan Samardzic, bid farewell to the U.S. Army Soldiers who have been in Montenegro since Sunday, February 19, as part of the response from NATO allies to Montenegro’s request for assistance following record snowfalls. 

In a send-off ceremony for the soldiers and the two U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters that brought relief supplies and evacuated people needing medical attention in areas cut off by heavy snow, both the Deputy Minister of Defense and the Chief of General Staff thanked the U.S. Soldiers for their work and praised the cooperation between the U.S. and Montenegrin Soldiers.

U.S. Ambassador Sue K. Brown said, “This operation is a wonderful example of what the NATO alliance is all about: countries helping each other when they are in need.  I want to thank the U.S. Soldiers for their support to the Montenegrin people at this very difficult time.  You have established friendships with Montenegrins which will last for a long time to come.  We know that this mission was a partnership between the American and Montenegrin Soldiers, and we know it could not have been done, if we had not all worked together.”

Commander of the U.S. taskforce Colonel Robert Levalley also praised the cooperation of the U.S. and Montenegrin Soldiers. He said, “It has been a wonderful operation.  The Montenegrin and U.S. Soldiers worked together as part of one mission.  It was as though they had been working together for many years.”

In response to the Montenegrin Government’s request for assistance from NATO following severe winter weather, the United States deployed two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters and a support crew of 37 to Montenegro. The support crew arrived to Montenegro on Sunday, February 19, and the two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters arrived on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. The UH-60A Lift Helicopter flew twelve total missions, delivering humanitarian assistance items and livestock feed to villages and towns in northern Montenegro which were cut off due to heavy snowfall. 

The U.S. Army’s UH-60A+ medical evacuation helicopter conducted a total of eleven missions, transporting doctors to the north and delivering critical medical supplies.   Together, both helicopters delivered over 20,000 kilos of supplies including food for residents, blankets, Red Cross kits, medical supplies and livestock feed. 

The U.S. Army crew and helicopters come from the 1-214th Aviation Battalion of the United States Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, the largest aviation brigade in the U.S. Army, headquartered in Katterbach, Germany.  Also supporting the mission in a command and control function, were members of the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, which is part of the 7th Civil Support Command in Kaiserslautern Germany.

The deployment of the U.S. aircraft follows the helicopter support provided earlier by other NATO allies Greece, Slovenia, and Croatia to assist Montenegro in responding to the worst winter weather in decades.   In addition to the helicopter assistance, the U.S. Government has donated $100,000 in humanitarian assistance funding and the United States European Command (EUCOM) provided $10,000 in Humanitarian Assistance funding to Montenegro to purchase winter gear and supplies for those affected by the heavy snowfalls.  Record snowfalls in Montenegro in February have left tens of thousands in the country’s mountainous north cut off from routine methods of access to food, fuel or medical assistance.