US National Guard, Kosovo Security Forces Train Hazardous Material Ops

The US National Guard has trained with Kosovo Security Forces in Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, to upskill on hazardous material (HAZMAT) operations.

The one-week exercise involved personnel from the Iowa National Guard’s 71st Civil Support Team (CST) and the Kosovo Security Force HAZMAT Company.

This training is part of the US Department of Defense program to enhance interoperability between military, security, and public safety agency partners.

Finding Explosives, Radiological Threats

During the activity, the Kosovar soldiers were tasked to find planted HAZMAT scenarios.

Threats across the arena comprised homemade explosive devices hidden in a locker room and a backpack containing radiological exposure.

Missions included identifying the articles using clues provided and detecting them without endangering other personnel.

Supporting Kosovar Counterparts

The training supports Kosovo in expanding the HAZMAT Company and combining their expertise with other safety organizations, such as fire departments, the US Army wrote.

To date, the company is responsible for assessing hazardous scenarios and disposal of related substances for the Kosovor military.

Members of the Kosovo Security Force Hazardous Materials Company discover clues that lead to a planted, homemade explosive device in a training scenario in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2023. The KSF worked with the 71st Civil Support Team, Iowa National Guard for a week long opportunity to work alongside the Des Moines Fire Department to find hazardous materials. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Rachel I. White)
US National Guard and Kosovar counterparts train HAZMAT operations in Wells Fargo Arena, Iowa. Photo: Sgt. Rachel I. White/US Army

While having similar capabilities, the 71st CST works with larger groups, including the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency, law enforcement agencies, and other HAZMAT specialists, on situations concerning chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials.

“The main difference between the Kosovo Security Force HAZMAT Company and us is that they don’t have any HAZMAT support. Whereas in Iowa, we have HAZMAT teams all over the place,” 71st CST 2nd Lt. James Leaman explained.

“The big thing that we are getting from this, that can be missed by some people, is that we are learning from them as well.”

“They respond to more things in their [country] than we ever do in the state.”

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