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October 23, 2019

Barrasso Examines the Important Role of Wyoming Troops and the United States in Kosovo

At a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing, the U.S. State Department praised the Wyoming National Guard’s work in Kosovo.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) questioned the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasia Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer about how the United States, and specifically the Wyoming National Guard, is helping Kosovo increase its military and energy security.

Barrasso recently traveled to Kosovo to meet with Wyoming National Guard soldiers stationed there, as well as with the U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett. During the hearing, Palmer made a point to highlight and praise the work the Wyoming National Guard is doing to help Kosovo.

Palmer testified at today’s Senate Committee on Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on successes and unfinished business in the Western Balkans.

Questions to Deputy Asst. Secretary Palmer on Wyoming Troops in Kosovo:

“I recently had the honor to visit with our Wyoming National Guard troops, they’re serving in Kosovo.

“The C Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment is stationed in northern Kosovo near the Serbian border. There’s a camp up there, I had a chance to fly up in a helicopter and visit with them, share a meal and thank them for what they’re doing for all of us.

“They are part of the NATO-led peacekeeping mission to promote stability and security in the region.

“NATO supervised the stand up and training of a multi-ethnic, professional and civilian controlled Kosovo Security Force, as you’re well aware.

“In December 2018, Kosovo passed legislation to transition the force into a NATO-interoperable military posture to support international peacekeeping and contingency operations.

“What U.S. security assistance do you think is going to be needed as part of this initiative?

“Are there NATO allies that oppose the move to an operational Army in Kosovo?

“Do you know if Kosovo is actively recruiting ethnic minorities into the security force?”

Asst. Secretary Palmer’s Remarks on Wyoming National Guard Troops Serving in Kosovo:

“Let me also underscore what a fabulous job the Wyoming National Guard is doing in Kosovo.

“They’re really just providing tremendous support for that country in a difficult time and we’re grateful for it.”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso question Asst. Sec. Palmer about U.S. assistance to Kosovo and role of WY troops serving there.

Questions to Deputy Asst. Secretary Palmer on U.S. Assistance and Energy Security:

“When I was in Kosovo, I learned that one of the key barriers to economic growth in the country is energy security.

“Kosovo relies on two aging lignite power plants, I had a chance to see one of them while heading up to the northern part of the country. About 95% of its electricity generation is from those two plants.

“Kosovo has very large lignite resources, I was able to see that as well from the air, totaling I think about 12.5 billion tons, which is the second largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

“Their energy strategy includes building a new 500 MW modern coal-fired power plant.

“Despite its previous commitments, the World Bank informed Kosovo in October a year ago that it wouldn’t help finance it.

“I disagree with the decision by the World Bank.

“We should be helping countries like Kosovo use the abundant energy resources that they have, that can provide affordable, reliable, and dependable supply of energy.

“How has the unreliable supply of energy that can be used impacted the economic growth and development that we see in Kosovo?

“Are there specific requests that the government of Kosovo has asked of us, the United States, regarding assistance in their energy sector?”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso question Asst. Sec. Palmer on how U.S. can help Kosovo increase energy security.