By Sgt. 1st Class David Dodds , 116th Public Affairs DetachmentFebruary 7, 2010
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - North Dakota Governor, the Honorable John Hoeven, and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, today wrapped up their visit to Kosovo, where state Soldiers are deployed on NATO peacekeeping missions at this base and in Pristina/Prishtina.
The Governor and Sprynczynatyk made the trip to show their support and thanks for their work and the sacrifices made by all North Dakota Soldiers in the Balkans region and around the world.
The bulk of the Peace Garden State Soldiers arrived in Kosovo in late October as part of a yearlong deployment with KFOR-12 (Kosovo Forces). North Dakota also has Soldiers in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Heidelberg, Germany.
"In my short time on the ground here, interacting with our State's Soldiers I've seen firsthand the outstanding difference they are making on the streets in Kosovo and how much they are appreciated by the people who live here," Hoeven said. "This mission is a challenging one but it is also a very important and rewarding mission. They truly are tremendous people, Citizen-Soldiers, and we appreciate all of their efforts."
On their first day on the ground together in Kosovo, Hoeven and Sprynczynatyk ate breakfast with North Dakota Soldiers, including Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., commander of the U.S.-led Multi-National Battle Group-East at Camp Bondsteel.
From there, they were flown by UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to Pristina/Prishtina, Kosovo for a whirl-wind tour of the KFOR headquarters and the 50 North Dakota Soldiers who work under the headquarters command. Following high-level meetings with the commander of KFOR, German Lt. Gen. Markus Bentler, and U.S. Ambassador in Kosovo Christopher Dell, it was back to Camp Bondsteel for a formal dinner with MNBG-E leaders and the Adjutant General of the Virgin Islands, Brig. Gen. Renaldo Rivera, who also was visiting the area.
At the gathering, all the dignitaries were treated to some home cooking - North Dakota style - in the form of Knoephla soup. North Dakota Staff Sergeant Vanessa A. Imdieke, Linton, N.D., taught local national cooks in the Camp Bondsteel chow hall to make the soup.
"It was a huge hit," said Capt. Mike L. Lowe, Bismarck, N.D., a supply and services officer for MNBG-E. "It's a great example of how North Dakota is leaving its mark in Kosovo."
The Governor and Sprynczynatyk spent Friday with MNBG-E's Liaison and Monitoring Teams (LMT), on missions in the cities of Kllokot/Klokot, Vitina/Viti, Letnica, Binac and Ferizaj/Urosevac. LMTs have an important mission in Kosovo, serving as the face of the battle group to citizens. LMTs interact with citizens and leaders to get a sense of issues that communities are facing and find ways to facilitate solutions.
The LMT Soldiers in MNBG-E come primarily from the 957th Multi-role Bridge Company, based in Bismarck.
"The greatest feeling I've had while here is one of pride in what they are doing for the people in this region. Sprynczynatyk said. "It is safe and secure here, but, at the same time, it is absolutely essential that our Soldiers are here. The people of North Dakota definitely should be proud of the performance of their National Guard Soldiers."
Other North Dakota units deployed in Kosovo include the 231st Maneuver Task Force, comprising Soldiers of the 231st Brigade Support Battalion, Valley City, N.D.; the 116th Public Affairs Detachment, Bismarck; and the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, which serves as the headquarters unit for all 2,200 MNBG-E Soldiers in Kosovo.
The North Dakota contingent of Soldiers in MNBG-E is joined by Soldiers from nearly 40 other states and territories. MNBG-E also is represented by NATO peacekeeping Soldiers from Greece, Poland, Ukraine and Romania.
During the final day of their visit, the Governor and Sprynczynatyk received an aerial tour of the MNBG-E sector of responsibility in Kosovo via Blackhawk helicopter.
The Governor and Sprynczynatyk were joined in Kosovo by Lt. Col. Kendall Bergmann, senior Army adviser, 1st Army; and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Theresia Hersch, aide de camp for the North Dakota adjutant general.
For Hoeven, who also serves as commander in chief of the North Dakota National Guard, this was his first visit to Kosovo. He previously visited North Dakota troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in June 2006.
"It was an honor and a privilege for me to be here," Hoeven told a gathering of about 400 North Dakota Soldiers before leaving Kosovo. "It was quite a sight to see how people in Kosovo react to you and the respect they have for the U.S. flag on your uniforms. I only wish the people of North Dakota could be here to see it too."
It was Sprynczynatyk's second visit to Kosovo in four months. He was last in Kosovo when North Dakota's 141st MEB took over responsibility of Multi-National Task Force-East, now MNBG-E, from the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard.
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 approximately 1,100 full-time federal and state employees.
"I know that Gov. Hoeven and Maj. Gen. Sprynczynatyk would not have wanted to miss this kind of opportunity," said MNBG-E commander Dohrmann, "but I also must say that it truly means a lot to the Soldiers on the ground here in Kosovo whenever the leaders of their individual states and territories come here to show their support and appreciation the exceptional effort they put out every day so far from home."
Multi-National Battle Group - East is a U.S- led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This Battle Group is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine). The charter mission of MNBG-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo.
Please contact the MNBG-E Public Affairs office for media engagements or to follow-up on this information.