CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (Nov. 16, 2009) --The commander of the North Dakota National Guard paid a visit to his state's Citizen-Soldiers as they assumed responsibility Saturday for a U.S.-led NATO peacekeeping mission.
Maj. Gen. David A. Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, spent two days in Kosovo with troops from the Peace Garden State. He also held high-level meetings with NATO Kosovo Forces, or KFOR, commanders and U.S. ambassador here.
The general was an honored guest at a transfer-of-authority ceremony at Camp Bondsteel Nov. 14, where North Dakota's 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, under the command of Brig. Gen. Alan S. Dohrmann of Bismarck, N.D., accepted responsibility for NATO's Multi-National Task Force-East sector from Brig. Gen. Keith D. Jones of the California National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Sprynczynatyk was joined at the ceremony by Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Job, senior enlisted leader of Joint Force Headquarters, North Dakota National Guard; Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, California National Guard adjutant general; Brig. Gen. Scott W. Johnson, commander of the 40th Infantry Division, California National Guard; Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Clark, senior enlisted advisor to the California adjutant general; and German Lt. Gen. Markus Bentler, commander of NATO forces in Kosovo.
The ceremony marked the official beginning of the peacekeeping mission for more than 1,300 U.S. Soldiers, nearly half of which come from the North Dakota National Guard. The Soldiers will spend about nine months maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for the people in Kosovo.
During his stay in Kosovo, Maj. Gen. Sprynczynatyk also sat down for breakfast with a select group of Soldiers and held a town-hall-style meeting with 150 other troops, who got a chance to ask the general questions and tell him what's on their mind.
"I'm proud of each of our soldiers. Our people are doing a tremendous job. Our people are very professional in what they do and they're going to make a difference," Maj. Gen. Sprynczynatyk said.
"So my message to our Soldiers was 'thank you for your service; I'm proud of you. You're doing a great job and I appreciate that fact that I have the opportunity to visit with you, if just for a matter of days, for me it's a wonderful experience.'"
Even though the new task force's headquarters is based out of North Dakota, it includes subordinate units from 13 states and the Virgin Islands. In all, nearly 40 states have Soldiers represented in the task force.
When combined with Soldiers from five other nations -- Greece (Task Force Hellas) Poland, Ukraine (Task Force Pol/Ukr), Armenia and Romania -- NATO's MNTF-E is a 2,200-member force. MNTF-E is one of five major sectors in Kosovo, where NATO military forces conduct peacekeeping patrols and interact with people.
Before arriving in Kosovo, Maj. Gen. Sprynczynatyk traveled to Djibouti, Africa to visit Soldiers with the Bismarck-based Detachment 42, Operational Support Airlift, which is deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
This small but highly specialized aviation unit serves with the Djibouti Combined Joint Task Force -- Horn of Africa. Their mission is to provide short-notice fixed-wing transportation for personnel and cargo within their area of operations.
Maj. Gen. Sprynczynatyk assumed duties as the adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard on Aug. 26, 2006. He commands 4,500 North Dakota Air and Army National Guard men and women, with about 1,100 full-time federal and state employees.
Multi-National Task Force - East is a U.S.-led task force, commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. The Headquarters is the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from North Dakota. MNTF-E includes nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force PPOL/U KR (Polish/ Ukraine). The charter mission of MNTF-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo.
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