Task Force Eagle hands over key to Camp Comanche
Spec. Jessica Abner
First published in
SFOR Informer#148, September 26, 2002
At a ceremony at Camp Comanche, Sept. 5 Maj. Gen. Charles
H. Swannack, Jr., commander Multinational Division North officially
returned control of the post back into the hands of the Federation
Camp Comanche - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
has reduced the number of forces here in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(BiH) due to the success of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR)
mission in establishing and maintaining a safe and secure
The tallest flagpole in the Balkans
"This transfer of Camp Comanche to the Federation Ministry
of Defense is a reflection of the success of our mission,
and of the progress of this nation toward a peaceful, prosperous
future," said Swannack.
The base belonged to the Yugoslavian Air Force before the
General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) was signed in
December 1995. A short time later, Implementation Force (IFOR)
soldiers, who renamed the post Comanche, occupied the camp
and established it as a base of operations.
Camp Comanche, originally known as Tuzla West, consisted of
225 acres, including a runway, eight bunkers, one road, and
a set of unused railroad tracks.
The 642nd Engineer Company out of Fort Drum, New York, took
on a $1.5 million project building helipads and taxiways in
September of 1999.
Soon after the engineers arrived, they cleared a patch 200
meters wide and four kilometers long and hauled off 80,000
cubic meters of soil to make a work area safe for the aviation
units stationed here. During the winter months they turned
a frozen swamp into an airfield. Finally, the post expanded
as the home of the aviation, infantry and logistics task forces.
The engineers built more than 200 buildings at Camp Comanche.
These included barracks with space for 2,500 soldiers, motor
pools large enough to accommodate 700 vehicles and helipads
that could hold up to 54 aircraft. Nearly five miles of fencing
surrounded a container holding storage facility, a fuel farm,
a forward area refueling point, and an Army Material Command
The prominent 90-foot flagpole that SFOR used to proudly fly
the American flag every day, is the tallest flagpole in the
Balkans. "Today, we'll lower the American flag that flew
over this point for the last time," said Swannack. "After
today, this facility will belong to the Armed Forces of BiH,
and will fly the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina just as proudly."
Great contribution of the U.S. soldiers
"This is the first base turnover of its kind to local
military and serves as a pattern for other facilities,"
said Clifford G. Bond, U.S. ambassador to BiH. "We began
talking about consolidation of Camp Comanche and Eagle Base
"We hope to strengthen state level oversight of military
here in BiH. It is essential if BiH is to qualify as a candidate
for the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and ultimately membership
in NATO," said Bond. "PfP membership is a realistic
goal. It will only be attained with strong leadership by all
leaders at the state and local level."
The Federation ministry of defense plans to change the name
of the camp. But "the name of the base will be remembered
and will always remind us of the great contribution of the
U.S. soldiers to enforce peace here in BiH and heal the injuries
of the war," said Ferid Buljubasic, Deputy Federation
Minister of Defense. "Thank you, U.S. government for
giving back this land in excellent condition where so much
investment has been made. We will continue to maintain it."
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