A friendly guerilla organization regardless of location is often the builder of its myth and misfortune. When structured military forces arrive in a new location, it often displaces the friendly guerillas on a proverbial island. Worse, if the military fails to properly interact with the friendly guerillas we run the risk of turning that proverbial island into a real fortress.

I was in a band of these fools in the early 2000s, in Gnjilane, Kosovo and dealing with the guerilla organization, UCK (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës), or in English the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army).

The UCK was an outlier, the former warriors, past heroes. Part of an often repeating cycle of unfortunate circumstances that is needed as a conflict ends, for the passage of time and stability to return; as such of veterans dating back in recorded history before Athens and Rome. The reintegration of any force, despite success, failure, or duty will need to find its place in the public of any society, is often plagued with personal issues from the warrior stemming from conflict, the publics’ shame and/or perception of self in relation to the roles of whom was the fighter and who was the farmer.

Whether deliberate or passive, the public will bump heads at home once the conflict is past. I was settling into my first assignment to Germany and my unit was preparing for a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) deployment to Kosovo to support international forces in peacekeeping operations such as presence patrols, humanitarian operations, and counter-explosive hazards as a combat engineer. In such, we trained for the latter but instead we found ourselves in the midst the most diverse group of people one could have geographically nested in rolling mountainous terrain that maintained an uneasy peace. At that time, it was the largest collection of NGOs (non-governmental organizations), NATO troops, and displaced cultures in one little pressure cooker. The Balkans, which actively maintain grudges that date back to the Battle of Kosovo Polje, in 1389.