So, this year I kick off a BOHICA Blues comic version of the Kosovo deployment.
So, a quick historical rundown: the former nation of Yugoslavia broke apart after the Cold War. It was a messy divorce with a lot of fighting, and in one of the final acts of this breakup, the small country of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, and in 1999 there was some fighting between the two. NATO intervened and now there is a NATO peacekeeping mission stationed in Kosovo, called “KFOR”, or “Kosovo Force”. It’s kind of unique because most “peacekeeping missions” are operated by the United Nations, but this one is all NATO and EU countries– so you won’t see, for example, peacekeepers from Korea, Nigeria or Brazil, for example.
Current US policy has been to rotate National Guard (and I believe some Reserve) units through Kosovo, one year at a time, to maintain a presence there. National Guard units, just like the Reserve units portrayed in BOHICA Blues, can add additional personnel to their roster to be fully mission capable; and these additional personnel come in the form of “fills” from other units.
Now, yes, Reserve and National Guard units can exchange people between them. It is rare, typically they like to keep things “in house” but if a unit is short of people in a particular specialty they will announce a general request that anyone can apply for, even Active Duty if they want. Of course, you need approval from both the gaining and losing units’ chains of command, and so on– there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved, as with all things military.
So in this case, I have decided to portray my own deployment to Kosovo in the comic, since that is pretty much the reason the comic came into existence in the first place.
For the curious, yes, I have left the Reserve Combat Engineer life and joined my local National Guard. I also switched MOS (Mission Occupational Specialty, my job in the Army) from 12B (Combat Engineer) to 35F (Intelligence Analyst), and I am serving in a Helicopter Aviation unit now. I had been planning on putting Juni Okuda in the Intel field for a long time, and when I changed jobs I used that as material for the comic when I featured Juni. The main focus on the comic was going to continue to be Joe and the Engineers, because after almost 15 years of Engineer experience I have a lot of bewildering things to make fun of– enough to carry the comic for years.
But with the deployment coming up, I decided to switch things up again and let Juni carry the show for awhile. I will still check in with Joe and the 213th Engineers a lot but for the time being, a lot of the comic will focus on the fictional 813th Aviation Battalion as Juni and Emma O’Neil both transfer to them. So there will be deployment humor, helicopter humor, European humor, and a heck of a lot of Intel humor to come. I hope people find this enjoyable enough to stick around.