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KFOR Chief of Staff

On the 10th of November the KFOR Chronicle sat down for an interview with Brigadier General Maier asking him about his role, experience and responsibilities in KFOR.

Can you summarize your previous experience to date?

Brigadier General John Maier started his military service by enlisting in the 11th Special Forces Group (A) in 1989, earning his Green Beret as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant. After serving for several years on multiple Operational Detachments, he was commissioned in 1996 as a Military Intelligence Officer with assignment to the 2nd Psychological Operations Group. In 1999 he deployed to Operation Joint Guardian as a Psychological Operations Task Force Intelligence Officer. Upon returning in 2000 he transfer to 2nd BN of the 19th Special Forces Group (A) where he served as Battle Captain/Assistant Operations Officer in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002. In 2003 he became a Judge Advocate General, serving as SOTF 192 SJA in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006 and Enduring Freedom in 2009. In 2007 he began serving in the National Guard Bureau's, Office of Chief Counsel specializing in Operational Law. In 2014 he served as the Special Operations Detachment-Europe SJA at Special Operations Command Europe. In 2015 he was assigned to US Northern Command where he became Chief of Operational Law, afterwards deploying to Operation Spartan Shield as 35th Infantry Division SJA until 2018. Upon redeployment he returned to Combat Arms as an Air Defense Artillery Officer, serving as Chief of Staff for the Wyoming Army National Guard in 2019 and the U.S. Army's First Army in 2020, before assuming duties as Chief of Staff KFOR in June of 2021.

Can you please outline your current appointment, role and responsibilities?

The principal duty of the Chief of Staff (COS) is to run KFOR Headquarters, having authority for supervision and executive control of the HQ staff in Pristina. The COS works directly for COMKFOR. The COS is the principal coordinator and executive coordinating agent for the Commander. Exercises control and supervision of the entire HQ responsibilities and Staff. The COS manages a large Multi-National Headquarters with 440 staff personnel from approximately 28 different nations. Across all facets of personnel, intelligence, operations, plans, budgeting and signal. The COS directs liaison activities with European Union, Foreign Ambassadors, Foreign Chiefs of Defense, the Institutions in Kosovo, Minister of Defense, Minister of Internal Affairs, and Director Kosovo Intelligence Agency. On occasion, the COS may be delegated Acting COM. The COS communicates for the Commander with other HQs. The COS must liaise with five large Multi-National Task Forces, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), NATO HQ in Skopje (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), NATO HQ Tirana (Albania), EUCOM, HQ JFC Naples and HQ SHAPE. The COS manages a budget of approximately 34 million euros over three funding streams (NATO Budget, National Budgets, and NSPI.) In addition, the COS runs the command battle rhythm and all COS and COM conferences, with a requirement to be aware of all political, social and economic aspect of the development of Kosovo as a democratic society, with emphasis on the western Balkans security situation. COS attends conferences at JFCNP and lectures at NATO institutions.

What is your experience to date with KFOR?

I had the Honor and privilege to serve with KFOR at Camp Bondsteel in 1999-2000 as a First Lieutenant serving as an Intelligence Officer with the Regional Command-East PSYOPs Task Force. During that time I served under KFOR Commander, Lieutenant General Jackson, General Reinhardt and Lieutenant General Ortuno.

I returned 21 years later, in June 2021, as a Brigadier General serving as KFOR Chief of Staff for Major General Federici and now Major General Kajari. It is my pleasure to lead the KFOR staff in serving NATO and all the people of Kosovo.

How does your appointment assist and support personnel employed on the ground?

As the current Chief of Staff for KFOR, I am the principal coordinator and executive coordinating agent for the Commander. I exercise control and supervision of the entire Headquarters staff; which is a multi-national force of Civilians, Service Members, and officers from 28 different nations. I ensure the Battle Rhythm and operational process work effectively and quickly. I ensure all facets of personnel, operations and logistics are handled. I directly supervise the CE list for personnel fills and the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements for capability fills. I oversee budget execution for the benefit of KFOR and Camp Film City. I liaise and direct the HQ Support Group for daily camp operations, as well as JENG for future improvements to the Camp infrastructure. During the COVID Crisis I have had daily information sharing and consistent coordination with JMED to ensure Camp wellness and preventive medicine. I direct and coordinate with the Provost Marshall to ensure a safe and secure Camp environment for all.

What core soldiering skills are applicable to KFOR soldiers?

First, to maintain personnel and professional discipline. KFOR Soldiers must display the highest standards of professionalism at all times. I ask them to work as a team, support their Commanders, and to find solutions to problems the best they can.

Strategically they must understand Kosovo, all of its people, and KFOR's mission here. Operationally soldiers must understand their role in KFOR, how their efforts support the higher picture, and how they make a contribution to KFOR and its mission. A soldier must always be ready to completely execute all the functions of their military specialty; in any climate or condition under highly adverse conditions. Tactically soldiers must be fit, well grounded in soldier skills, always situationally aware, and capable of defending themselves and their unit. I ask all soldiers to be well-versed in personnel defenses, land navigation, communications, and combat medicine in order to preserve themselves and KFOR.

What key piece of advice would you give to personnel employed on the ground?

I ask all KFOR personnel to continue their selfless service with pride and distinction as we work to maintain a safe and secure environment. Remember you are Ambassadors of KFOR, NATO, and your Home Nations. Always ensure your actions bring credit upon yourselves and your unit. Most importly, I thank them for their sacrifice, service, and leadership. It is my honor to lead you as your Chief of Staff. Duty, Reliability and Commitment!

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