By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hagburg, 116th Public Affairs DetachmentDecember 31, 2009
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- The commander of Multi-National Task Force-East told local media in Gjilan/Gnjilane and Ferizaj/Urosevac this week that he looks forward to working with civic leaders and members of the press to ensure they have the most current information on KFOR capabilities and the improving security environment in Kosovo.
During the informal press events, called "press coffees," Dec. 29 and 30, Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann said it was a pleasure to sit down with the local media from both cities, two of the largest in the MNTF-E sector, to discuss important issues.
In his opening statement, Dohrmann said that conditions in Kosovo had improved greatly since 2005, when he was in Kosovo as member of KFOR. He pointed out that there had been no major security incidents in Kosovo in 2009 and that both NATO and the North Atlantic Council have noted the "positive evolution" of the security situation.
"Transparency, cooperation, communication and respect for one another are the keys to the success of our mission," said Brig Gen Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., a member of the North Dakota National Guard, "It is evident that there has been a steady improvement in the security situation in Kosovo, due, in large part, to the increased capability of the Institutions in Kosovo."
Because of the improvements in security in the region KFOR and MNTF-E will move to a "deterrent presence" posture by Jan. 31, 2010, meaning a transition from about 14,000 to 10,000 NATO forces throughout Kosovo.
"KFOR will rely more heavily on reserve forces that are able to quickly and decisively respond whenever and wherever necessary in support of local structures as a third responder," Dohrmann said. "You may notice fewer KFOR patrols but that is directly related to the abilities of the Kosovo Police (KP). Any adjustments made will not decrease KFOR's operational capability."
Dohrmann was asked whether the move to deterrent presence would affect security in Kosovo. He responded by stating that while there still are challenges ahead in Kosovo, progress continues every day.
"It's teamwork between EULEX (European Rule of Law in Kosovo) and the KP, with KFOR, as a third responder, that makes success possible." Dohrmann said, "As we move forward to 2010, MNTF-E will continue to work with the institutions to maintain a safe and secure environment in Kosovo."
Dohrmann said his forces in MNTF-E will continue to pay special attention to illegal trafficking of arms, ammunition and explosives per the mandates of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Military Technical Agreement.
The media also asked about KFOR's role in economic development and civil projects in Kosovo, and specifically, how that might change with fewer forces on the ground.
"As we move to deterrent presence, the way we do civil affairs projects is going to change," Dohrmann said. "Our focus will be on connecting donor organizations with Kosovo communities. My expectation is to that we will work to put a system in place that will last long after KFOR.
Dohrmann concluded his remarks by stating, "Kosovo is headed toward a brighter future and that is something we can all be extremely proud of."
Multi-National Task Force - East is a U.S. led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This task force is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (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.
Please contact the MNTF-E Public Affairs office for media engagements or to follow-up on this information.