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Camp Bondsteel is the main base of the United States Army under KFOR command in Kosovo.[a] Located near Ferizaj in the eastern part of Kosovo, the base serves as the NATO headquarters for KFOR's Multinational Battle Group East (MNBG-E). The base is named after Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient United States Army Staff Sergeant James L. Bondsteel.
Aerial photo of Camp Bondsteel
|Controlled by||United States Army|
Camp Bondsteel was constructed by the 94th Engineer Construction Battalion, augmented by A Company, 864th Engineer Battalion, and the 568 Combat Support Engineer Company, together with the private Kellogg, Brown and Root Corporation (KBR). The planning, design and construction management of the project was completed by the Construction Management Section of the 130th Engineer Brigade and a team from the Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. KBR is also the prime contractor for the operation of the camp. The camp is built mainly of wooden, semi permanent SEA (South East Asia) huts and is surrounded by a 2.5 m (8.2 ft) high earthen wall. The camp occupies 955 acres (3.86 km2) of land. To construct the base, two hills were flattened and the valley between them was filled. In August 1999, 52 helipads were constructed on the facility's west perimeter to handle helicopter aviation.
Camp Bondsteel has many facilities on base, all built with aid from the US military which are used by the soldiers and civilian employees who live and work there, and can hold up to 7,000 soldiers which makes it the largest US base in the Balkans. The post exchange (PX) is the largest military exchange in south eastern Europe and contains all the necessities and more that someone may need while in Kosovo, including TVs, phones, books, DVDs, CDs, small furniture, video games, computers, clothes, shoes, food, and more, all in its two-story building. The base also has a hospital; two gyms; two recreation buildings that have phones, computers with internet connection, pool tables, video games and more; one chapel with various religious services and other activities; one large dining facility; a fire station; a military police station; two cappuccino bars, a Burger King, Taco Bell, and an Anthony's Pizza pizzeria; one barber shop; one laundry employing local nationals; one dry cleaner; a tailor; various local vendors who sell Kosovo souvenirs and products; softball and football fields; and more.
Camp Bondsteel is not open to inspections by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), which has the right to visit all "places of detention" of the member states of the Council of Europe. Negotiations with KFOR were underway, but they have been suspended since Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence was not recognized by the Council of Europe. The United States Army has been criticised for using the base as a detention facility, and for the conditions faced by the detainees there. In November 2005, Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy of the Council of Europe, described the camp as a "smaller version of Guantanamo" following a visit. In response, the US Army stated that there were no secret detention facilities in the Camp.
- Philips, John (2004). Macedonia: Warlords and Rebels in the Balkans. I.B.Tauris. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-86064-841-0.
- "Camp Bondsteel". Global Security. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
- "Camp Bondsteel Army Base in Ferizaj, Kosovo". Military Bases. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- "'Smaller Version of Guantanamo' in Kosovo". 2009-01-31. Archived from the original on 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
- "Clandestine Camps in Europe: "Everyone Knew What Was Going On in Bondsteel"". Der Spiegel. Hamburg. 5 December 2005. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "Secret prisons: Obama's order to close 'black sites'". The Guardian. London. 23 January 2009. p. 18.
- "Condi goes on offensive over secret CIA jails". The Sunday Times. London. 4 December 2005. p. 21.
- McLaughlin, Daniel (28 November 2005). "US denies running secret prison in Kosovo as covert CIA flights investigated". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states, while 12 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition.