I am going to be spending this winter in Kosovo and would appreciate any tips on what kit to take (decent boots, laptop etc). Also any ideas of what the place is like at that time of year (or indeed anytime of year).
I've heard that one before. And been sorely dissapointed before. I did a winter tour in Bos once and was issued one pair of arctic socks and a deputy dawg hat 2 sizes too small. That was my winter kit issue. I had to buy my own parka and thermals. If you are going to a very cold place (and the Balkans ARE in the winter) then look after yourself rather than trust a system which is legendary for not doing it for you.
Very very cold, but feels colder, watch for feet and fingers. And watch out for the local bathtub booze - best to rub it on your nose and fingers in the bloody awful cold. Some wool/silk longjohns are a very good idea
The locals are dandy but do not be seen to make a play at the women (in public). The place is awash with guns & villany, every self respecting Albanian is tooled up.
You will enjoy Kosovo in the winter: it is prettier than the summer as the snow hides all the rubbish.
It is damnnnnnn cold in winter. If you will be stood around on stag then wrap up as warm as you can. The issued DPM goretex cold weather gloves are rather good and were being issued there last year in October. Think layers rather than one huge jacket, and do not forget your legs. As already posted; silk thermals are excellent. Remember that any tw@t can be uncomfortable, and by staying warm you can do your job better and not have such a shite tour. Temperatures in Pristina and the cities rarely fall below -15Celsius, but out on the hills it can plummet to -30 without too much hassle. Combine that with windchill and it can get quite dangerous for the ill-prepared.
I would echo ArmchairJ's comments; do not mess with the local women (local men get very offended to say the least). Most of the women are effing ugly anyway (even uglier than most of your female colleagues!). They do however tend to have great bods, but you won't see this as they only parade them in summer Do not go to a brothel: most women are in it against their wishes (slavery is alive and well in the Balkans thanks to the UN's incompetence and the depravity of local men) and like a French officer and his two Sergeants last year, you may find yourselves deprived of your clothes, webbing and weapons and be left to run back to camp naked! For security, almost no-one is trying to kill you (remember global threat of terrorism though); the greatest risk is criminality. This can endanger lives because some cnut has stolen equipment from you, or you get in the way of a crime (theoretical, as it hasn't happened since '99)
The locals tend to love NATO, provided they are not French or German! They hate the UN, so do not sing their praises! The old KLA are still knocking around as the KPC. They are not as bad as most of the international community or armies make out, and can be a friendly bunch. Just never eat at their barracks (unless you really like crap food). The local food is excellent and cheap, and a few words in Albanian (south of Mitrovica!) work wonders. I was there for a year and never had the sh1ts from local food.
Of the PXs to go to, the best conglomeration is at Film City (a few minutes walk from Slim Lines). The best shop in the country is at Camp Bondsteel (US). Good prices and selection. The Yanks also have the best food, followed by the French, then Italians. The UK grub is slightly better than the Ukrainian or Greek muck, but not much!
If you don't get issued a 'deputy dawg' style hat (you know the fleecy one with fold-down ears), get hold of one as i found it very useful. We recorded a lunchtime temperature of -15 during the January of the tour i was there - proper, to-the-bone cold - and it was worse at night.
I second the comments about Film City - fit, foreign chicks everywhere! As for the local chicks - good-looking but shocking teeth!
For what it's worth, the best gloves I wore there (2001, but a Balkans winter's a Balkans winter, adn the chill doesn't vary a lot) were my winter motorbike ones. Designed to withstand the windchill (-25' and a breeze to go with it), but with enough movement to allow you to do things without taking the ruddy things off.
Apart from that, Deputy Dog's finest head dress is a lifesaver, you either love Pro-boots or you hate 'em, and there's no need to go for goretex lined footwear, on the grounds that even the wintereised diesel's freezing, so you're hardly goign ot be stepping in a puddle But many peeps swore by Lowas just for the sake of the thickness of the sole.
Oh, and while it's hardly ME kit, a damned thick dressing gown never did any harm on the way to the shower either!
Enjoy, and remember that on 3 fet of black ice masquerading as a road, there's nowhere in the world that's worth speeding to. BEtter late in this world than early in the next.
Ah yes the teeth! You never want to see them smile even the uber fit ones - its a balkan thing. The other posts are spot on in thats its a great place to meet loads of other international army types - I spent a Christmass with the Irish Republic mob & the Swedes a totally majestic time. As Dread says the locals do love NATO esp. us, do go out of your way to meet the locals to savour it.
Oh and DON'T buy even the branded fags, they are all fakes.
Your Sigs ......Then what are you worried about, you will never venture out in the cold at all mate, you will be based at Slim lines just north of Pristina
PM me and I will let you know all you want ------------- Grey