BISMARCK, N.D. - An announcement yesterday from Headquarters of the U.S. Army in Europe indicated that about 550 U.S. Soldiers serving with Kosovo Force (KFOR) 12, Multi-National Battle Group-East, will be returning home before summer. About 160 Soldiers of the 231st Maneuver Task Force (231st Brigade Support Battalion), Valley City, N.D., and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of North Dakota are expected home in May versus the initial July or August mission end date.

According to U.S. Army Europe, "the change is in response to the improving security situation throughout Kosovo, brought about by the hard work and cooperation of the citizens and institutions in Kosovo. Under the Deterrent Presence plan [which is how Multi-National Battle Group-East is organized for operations], military forces throughout Kosovo have been adjusted from 14,000 to a total force size of 10,000, by order of the North Atlantic Council, the civilian body that oversees NATO."

Soldiers in California, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, Kansas and North Dakota are all impacted by this change. The decision on which specific Soldiers return in May is being made based on particular positions and capabilities required by the ongoing mission.

Soldiers affected by this change are being notified and will be personally informing their families of their return date.

"I've seen firsthand the success of our North Dakota Soldiers working in Kosovo," said Gov. John Hoeven. "Together with their counterparts across the United States and in other NATO countries, they have made a real difference working with Kosovo to transition it to a greater level of security. I look forward to welcoming all of them home, whether it's in May or later in the summer."

After May, nearly 800 U.S. Soldiers will remain in Kosovo as part of the larger, 10,000-strong NATO peacekeeping force. Nearly 500 of those remaining will be North Dakota Soldiers. The change in U.S. troop levels in May will ensure a seamless transition with the incoming Soldiers of KFOR 13, which will be led by the Puerto Rico Army National Guard.

"We're always happy to hear news of progress being made in areas where our Guardsmen are active, and today's announcement from U.S. Army Europe is no different," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general. "Our Soldiers have been putting their hearts into this mission since they arrived in October, and it shows. NATO forces have seen improved security throughout Kosovo, and I'm very proud of our North Dakota Soldiers' roles in that."

Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, of Bismarck, commands Multi-National Battle Group-East, which is comprised of armed forces from the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard, Greece, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Turkey. Formerly called Multi-National Task Force-East, the Feb. 1 name change to Multi-National Battle Group-East signified the transformation of the Kosovo mission to a more responsive and flexible force structure under KFOR's "Deterrent Presence" plan.

Media: To arrange a Skype interview with a Soldier affected by this change, please contact Capt. Dan Murphy, KFOR 12 public affairs officer, at or call 011-49-621-730-781-5076.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 800 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, sufficient forces remain in the state for emergency response and homeland defense.

For more information:
Deterrent Presence Plan

Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe
Yesterday's release:

Kosovo Force (KFOR) 12