CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- Nearly nine months after assuming command of Multinational Battle Group-East, the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade relinquished command to another U.S. Army active duty unit, during a transfer of authority ceremony held at Camp Bondsteel, February 13.
The 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, took command of the battle group from the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, a similar Army unit based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
U.S. Army Col. David J. Woods, a native of Denbo, Pa., and the commander of the 525th BFSB, transferred authority of MNBG-E to U.S. Army Col. Charles T. Hensley, a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and the commander of the 504th BFSB.
Woods said the distinct nature of the Kosovo Force mission was testing and always shifting, just as most peace support operations are throughout the Balkans.
?"For me, working the [Kosovo Force] mission was unique. Peace support operations were always changing, and every day I was faced with a different challenge," Woods said.
He continued by thanking his subordinate units and multinational partners, who helped him ?"find solutions to the challenges," and ?"positively project[ed]" their commitment to their countries, soldiers, and the people of Kosovo.
Col. Woods said the soldiers manning the Balkans 18 rotation would be a ?"dynamic team," and expressed his confidence they would maintain the ?"high professional standards that come with being a member of this close-knit team."
The commander for Kosovo Forces, Italian Army Maj. Gen. Salvatore Farina, recited an extensive list of accomplishments made by the KFOR 17 rotation including the formation of a fusion cell in the northern area of Kosovo, responding to 132 calls for assistance on unexploded ordnance, and completing over 23 medical evacuation missions by helicopter.
More importantly, Farina noted, was that the soldiers of the KFOR 17 rotation added to the increase of a safe and secure environment throughout Kosovo.
?"Your presence and action greatly contributed to safe and secure environment and freedom of movement here in Kosovo," Farina said. ?"...these actions have all advanced the mission of KFOR and benefited all the people of Kosovo immensely."
Praising the next MNBG-E Commander, Col. Hensley, Maj. Gen. Farina said that Hensley?'s previous military assignments would be the ?"best prerequisites for a successful tour in this complex mission."
In his closing remarks, Farina commended the Soldiers of Kosovo Force and said no commander could fulfil the duties of command without soldiers who were committed to the mission in Kosovo.
?"Let me assure you that I?'ve been with [soldiers] many times in the north and east, and I can tell you they are highly-valued soldiers, and have made a great difference. I?'m proud of the work that they have done. I?'m very proud of you, Soldiers of Multinational Battle Group-East," Farina stated to the audience of several hundred multinational soldiers, military leaders and dignitaries.