Dec. 3, 2009

Virginia Guard Soldiers part of newest Kosovo task force

Staff Reports

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — A new U.S.-led KFOR (Kosovo Forces) task force, made up of Soldiers from 37 states, officially took over responsibility of Multi-National Task Force-East (MNTF-E) on Nov. 14, 2009.

  Virginia Guard Soldiers in Kosovo

Spc. William C. Ralston of Centreville, Va., makes final adjustments on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter repair job. Ralston is a Virginia National Guard Soldier with Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion, which is currently serving in Kosovo as part of KFOR 12.

The Virginia National Guard’s Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion (AVUM) is part of KFOR 12 and is responsible for conducting scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on U.S. aircraft in the country, according to Capt. Michael H. Gregory, commander of the unit.

“The elections just took place which not only was a milestone for the people of Kosovo but set the stage for further stabilization in the region,” Gregory said. “Our mission is to assist in the implementation of UNSCR 1244 pending a final settlement in Kosovo and I think that we are starting to see more signs of that.”

"This is a very beautiful country and the local populace is very supportive of our mission," said Staff Sgt. Danny J. Conwell.

"The Kosovars have immediately befriended us and made every effort to show their gratefulness for our service with kindness and warmth," said Sgt. 1st Class Jorge L. RiveraDiaz.

"The journey here was easy and the transition from KFOR 11 to KFOR 12 was smooth," said Spc. Robert V. Burkhead. “Task Force Arctic Eagle, the KFOR 11 Aviation Task Force, was from Alaska and gave us a quality mission hand off setting us up for success.”

  Virginia Guard Soldiers in Kosovo

Spc. William C. Ralston, Centreville, Va., Sgt. Keith L. Lang, Greensboro, N.C., and Sgt. Shawn R. Wall, Williamsburg, Va., of the Virginia National Guard work on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in Kosovo.

Many of the Soldiers from Virginia, Kentucky and South Carolina that now make up Det. 2, Co. B, 777th ASB (AVUM) have made friends with Soldiers from other parts of the United States, according to Gregory.  

Brig. Gen. Alan S. Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of the North Dakota National Guard, and the Soldiers who make up his task force, accepted responsibility of MNTF-E from Brig. Gen. Keith D. Jones, 40th Infantry Division (Forward), of the 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."

More than 1,300 Soldiers comprise Task Force Falcon, the U.S. contingent of MNTF-E. Though its headquarters is based out of North Dakota, units that make up the task force come from 14 states and territories: Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Utah, and the Virgin Islands. In all, 37 states have Soldiers represented.

Nearly 2,200 Soldiers from several NATO countries, including the U.S., make up the total MNTF-E force.

Stretching along Kosovo's eastern Administrative Boundary Line, MNTF-E is one of five sectors, where NATO peacekeeping forces conduct patrols and engage with people and institutions.

The incoming KFOR 12 Soldiers started arriving in Kosovo in late October.

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