US aviation soldiers assist with Kosovo wildfires


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Aviation Soldiers assigned to Kosovo Force’s Regional Command-East have been working together since their arrival in the region to enhance their aerial firefighting capabilities.

They have assisted in combatting wildfires utilising the force’s crew chiefs, pilots, command staff and the Soldiers who perform maintenance on the Bambi buckets used to drop massive amounts of water to extinguish large fires.

2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment of the Virginia National Guard, implemented training to bring their aviation crews up to standard and certify anyone who has never used the Bambi bucket. Crews use local lakes for training, and even after Soldiers are certified, the aviation teams continue to train because a call to fight a fire can come in at any second.

Kosovo is prone to wildfires due to farmers participating in agricultural burning to cultivate fields and clear stubble, weeds, and waste, for the continued production of crops. If these fires are not kept under control, they have the potential to turn into larger fires that threaten Kosovo villages and forest habitats.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Darrell Busquets, the battalion standardisations instructor pilot assigned to Bravo Company, said: “Before our pre-mobilization, we got word that there were Bambi buckets here in Kosovo and that KFOR 29 fought fires up in the western side of Kosovo during their rotation.”

He added: “That prompted us to put our aviators through Bambi bucket qualifications. Once we got into Kosovo, we continued to keep current on the Bambi bucket operations. The training makes our crews more cohesive when we get called to do real life operations.”

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