CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo A new U.S.-led Kosovo Forces task force, based out of North Dakota, officially took over responsibility of Multi-National Task Force-East Saturday, joining units from five other NATO nations, all of which are maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement in Kosovo.
At the mid-day event, Brig. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, Bismarck, of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of the North Dakota National Guard, and the soldiers in his task force, accepted responsibility of Multi-National Task Force-East from Brig. Gen. Keith Jones, of the 40th Infantry Division (Forward), California National Guard, and the soldiers under his command.
"We've trained very hard for this mission, really, for more than 18 months now," Dohrmann said. "We're all ready for the mission. I know the soldiers are excited to get things started with the mission, and I'm very excited to get things started too."
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Multi-National Task Force-East Kosovo Forces 12 commanding general Brig. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, Bismarck; Kosovo Forces 11 commanding general Brig. Gen. Keith Jones; Col. Robert Fode, Bismarck; and Kosovo Forces commander German Lt. Gen. Markus Bentler salute the troops of Kosovo Forces 12, during the transfer-of-authority ceremony held at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. Left to right, Lt. Col. Paul Harron, Kosovo Forces 12 staff officer; Col. Giselle Wilz, Kosovo Forces 12 operations officer; and Lt. Col. Darcie Handt, Kosovo Forces 12 logistics officer, all of Bismarck, return their commanders’ salutes.
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Commanding general Brig. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, Bismarck, and command Sgt. Major Jack Cripe, Dickinson, both of Multi-National Task Force-East Kosovo Forces 12, unfurl their task force colors during a transfer-of-authority ceremony held Saturday at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. The unfurling of the colors represents Kosovo Forces 12’s taking charge of peace-support operations in Kosovo.
More than 1,300 soldiers comprise Task Force Falcon, the U.S. contingent of Multi-National Task Force-East of which about 600 are N.D. National Guard soldiers.
In all, 37 states have soldiers represented in the task force. Nearly 2,200 soldiers from several NATO countries, including the U.S., make up the total Multi-National Task Force-East force.
Stretching along Kosovo's eastern Administrative Boundary Line, Multi-National Task Force-East is one of five sectors, where NATO peacekeeping forces conduct patrols and engage with people and institutions.
Jones and the soldiers of the 40th Infantry Division (Forward) have been providing safety and security in Kosovo since they arrived in February. Dohrmann said he looks forward to continuing that important mission with the help of multi-national partners from Task Force Hellas (Greece), Task Force POL/UKR (Poland and Ukraine), as well as units from Armenia and Romania.
"For me to complete my mission and to continue on the path to a brighter future, we the international community, non-governmental organizations, the Institutions in Kosovo, municipal leaders, religious leaders, other formal and informal leaders, and, most importantly, the people in Kosovo must work together as a team to build the brighter future that we all want for our children wherever we call home," Dohrmann said.
The incoming soldiers under Dohrmann's command started arriving in Kosovo in late October.
"They are well-trained, disciplined and prepared to carry out their mission here in Kosovo," Dohrmann said. "The task force I lead comprises soldiers, both National Guard and Reserve, with a wealth of knowledge and experience, both civilian and military. They are all eager to begin what we have trained for months to do maintain a safe and secure environment."
Soldiers who attended the ceremony Saturday include:
Sgt. 1st Class LeAnn Klett, Devils Lake, with Task Force Falcon's Headquarters & Headquarter's Co. Department Transportation Office. "I work with transportation and spend a lot of time around local contractors on Camp Bondsteel. They have been very appreciative toward the soldiers and they work hard alongside of us," she said.
Spc. Brett Hawks, Sykeston, a soldier in the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigades Operations section, said, "It feels good to be here, being part of a team working with other countries and learning about their cultures."
Dohrmann and Jones were joined at Saturday's event by Kosovo Forces commander German Lt. Gen. Markus Bentler, and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. William Wade II, California adjutant general.
Several other special guests of Multi-National Task Force-East including the president of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu, and the U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell, also attended the ceremony.
This is Dohrmann's second deployment to Kosovo, having been command judge advocate for Multi-National Task Force-East in 2004-2005.
"Progress is being made in Kosovo," Dohrmann said. "Since I was last here in 2005, I have seen remarkable improvements in Kosovo. From new construction and improved infrastructure to multi-ethnic youth events and religious leader meetings, Kosovo is headed toward a brighter future."
Dohrmann previously was deputy adjutant general and land component commander of the N.D. Army National Guard.