PRISTINA, KOSOVO — During a recent trip to visit U.S. troops in Iraq, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey was suddenly reminded of the U.S. military’s 15-year mission in Kosovo while glancing at a commercial on the American Forces Network, Duffel Blog has learned.
“All of a sudden, this commercial aired on AFN, saying that KFOR [Kosovo Force] was ‘ready and relevant’ in the 21st Century. And I’m like ‘what the hell, we still have troops there?”
U.S. troops first arrived in Kosovo in 1999, when Bill Clinton was still president and the Spice Girls were still together. While it would be years before "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" would air on television, the American public was, fortunately, not required to express any interest in military action, as a major sex scandal rocked the Clinton White House the previous year.
"Kosovo? Man, I haven't thought of that since, well, since Britney Spears still had her original tits!" Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno remarked, when asked about the enduring mission of U.S. troops in KFOR.
Kosovo was in the throes of a major humanitarian crisis in the late 1990s, following massive "ethnic cleansing" by the Serbian government and a NATO-led bombing campaign which culminated in a cease-fire. But the nearly 14-year-long Operation Enduring Clusterfuck in Iraq and Afghanistan that kicked off in late 2001 overshadowed the Kosovo mission, however.
That is not to say that Kosovo completely disappeared from public view. In 2013, Lt. Col. Andrew Stephens, a logistics officer in the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, mentioned his sole deployment to Kosovo at every opportunity — and was frequently met with eye-rolling from veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2012, soldiers from the Georgia National Guard made headlines when their entire company was evicted from Kosovo following a massive hazing ring.
"It appears they got pretty bored and resorted to hazing," said one Army officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, although why he needed to be anonymous to discuss a mission no one gives a shit about was unclear. "I mean, it's Kosovo, what else were they going to do?"
When queried about the activities of U.S. forces in KFOR, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel could only respond, "Basically, KFOR's been spending the last 15 years making AFN commercials about how relevent they think they are."
"But honestly, if you have to make an AFN commercial about how important you are ... we can probably do without you," he added.