By Maj. Cotton Puryear
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Brig. Gen. Douglas B. Earhart took command of the Kosovo Force’s Multi-National Task Force (East) in a ceremony held here Dec. 6. The Transfer of Authority Ceremony recognized Earhart’s assumption of command from Brig. Gen. Darren Owens, as well as the transfer of authority of the MNTF(E) mission from the 36 th Infantry Division to the 29th Infantry Division.
“Today is a great day in the lives of Soldiers and Airmen at Camp Bondsteel,” Earhart said. “Some of us are going home to friends and families, while others have completed training and preparation to assume authority of MNTF(E). Every member of this task force is excited about the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of the people of Kosovo.”
The United States is the lead nation for MNTF(E), which also has units from Armenia, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. The deployment to Kosovo is the second to the Balkans region for the 29th Division. The unit served in Bosnia in 2001.
“The U.S. Soldiers of Multi-National Task Force (East) wear the patch of the 29th Division, and this patch can serve as a symbol of hope to the people of Kosovo,” Earhart said. “It represents the blue and gray – the North and South – two cultures with divergent perspectives and beliefs. There was a time when it seemed these two groups would never settle their differences, but they now work together towards a common good in the United States.”
Earhart explained that two of the units in the task force, Task Force Red Dragon and Task Force Patriot, have battle streamers on their flag staffs that indicate they were on opposing sides during the American Civil War.
“Today they are united and free, working together towards the common goal of peace in Kosovo,” Earhart said. “The process of coming together is not easy; it takes commitment, diligence and patience from all citizens, but the reward is great.”
Owens, the outgoing MNTF(E) commander, said that now is a time of hope for a better future for the people of Kosovo and and a time of thankfulness for a job well done by the Soldiers of the 36th Division.
“The future of Kosovo is in the hands of those individuals who will continue to dedicate themselves to peace and to a free democratic society for all citizens,” Owens said. “I am confident in the fact that those citizens who believe in the rights of all and that follow the principals laid down in the “Cowboy Code” will make Kosovo a safe place to live, to raise a family and to have a prosperous future.
“Remember that peace must be achieved; it cannot be bestowed, and requires hard and diligent work, along with the belief in your heart that it will be a reality. Never let disappointments temper your resolve for peace; tomorrow can be better than today if you make it so.”
German Lt. Gen. Roland Kather, commander of the Kosovo Force, welcomed Earhart and stated that the job in Task Force East’s area of responsibility was not yet finished. “Much work remains to be done and now it is up to you to take the lead as MNTF East moves forward, operating in the crucial final lap of status, a period of utmost importance and interest for the international community and for all the people of Kosovo,” he said.
Kather also stressed the importance of working with regional and local authorities to help build self-confidence in their ability to gradually take over responsibilities currently in the hands of the international community and KFOR.
“Continue to do everything possible to support the amiable people of Kosovo on their way to a prosperous future,” he said.
The 29th Division is scheduled for a 12-month rotation in Kosovo.
Facts about Multi-National Task Force (East):
MNTF (E) is part of a larger NATO-led international force known as the Kosovo Force (KFOR). KFOR is responsible for establishing and maintaining security in Kosovo. The organization entered Kosovo on June 12, 1999 under a United Nations mandate, two days after the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244.
The objectives of KFOR are to establish and maintain a secure environment in Kosovo, including public safety and order; to monitor, verify and when necessary, enforce compliance with the agreements that ended the conflict; and to provide assistance to the U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
KFOR contingents are grouped into five multi-national brigade-sized task forces. Although each task force is responsible for a specific area of operations, they all fall under a single chain of command under the authority of Commander KFOR. KFOR troops come from 35 NATO and non-NATO nations
The United States contingent of MNTF (E) is made up of approximately 1,500 personnel. The National Guard of Virginia and Massachusetts provide almost two thirds of those Soldiers, while other National Guard Soldiers from 24 different states and Puerto Rico provide the additional personnel. Men and women from California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia have deployed as part of the task force. In addition, active duty Army and Air Force units are part of the deployment.
The task force is made up of one infantry battalion, one cavalry squadron and one aviation battalion, and also has public affairs, medical support, military police, explosive ordnance disposal, civil affairs and military intelligence.
The unit conducted mobilization operations in Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi in July, August and September, then deployed to Germany for a final readiness exercise from late October to early November. After the final readiness exercise, task force personnel spent time working along side their counterparts in the KFOR 7 operation.
Bio Summary - Brig. Gen. Douglas B. Earhart
Brig. Gen. Douglas B. Earhart was born in Alexandria, Va. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1986. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration from Appalachian State University in 1993 and a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the US Army War College in 2003.
Earhart enlisted in the Virginia Army National Guard in March 1982. Then in 1984, he attended the Virginia Army National Guard Officer Candidate School and was commissioned in the Field Artillery. He served in various command and staff assignments throughout his career, to include assignment as Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 111th Field Artillery. During this assignment, Earhart also commanded the Southeastern Virginia Emergency Response Task Force which provided military support to civil authorities in nine Virginia counties.
Earhart has been serving on active duty with the Virginia National Guard since 1989. Prior to that, he served as a traditional Army National Guard Soldier in the 29th Infantry Division. Before assuming his current duty, he served on the Army Staff at Headquarters, Department of the Army as Deputy Director, Army Quadrennial Defense Review Office.