COMSFOR Transfer of Authority
2nd Lt. Oliver Rolofs
First published in
SFOR Informer#167, November, 2003
2nd October 2003 marked the transfer of Commander SFOR
authority from Lieutenant General William E Ward to Major
General Virgil L Packett II. The ceremony was performed in
front of a parade of troops from all the MNBs and MSU and
witnessed by many distinguished guests including General James
L Jones, SACEUR, Admiral Gregory G Johnson, CinC AFSouth and
Lord Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative.
Butmir - In the last days of the Bosnian summer a large audience
of high ranking guests from NATO and BiH military and political
circles gathered to oversee the Transfer Of Authority ceremony
(TOA) and to express their personal gratitude to General Ward
for his considerable assistance that he gave to BiH whilst
acting as COMSFOR. The parade also welcomed in the new Commander,
General Packett. On the stroke of 2 o'clock, Regimental Sergeant
Major Ravacini smartly called the MNB, SFOR HQ and MSU detachments
to attention and the ceremony began.
Having received permission from the SFOR Deputy Commander,
Brigadier Young, to stand the parade at ease, the RSM brought
the troops back to attention with the arrival of the senior
officers, Generals Jones, Ward and Packett and Admiral Johnson.
General Ward then inspected each of the platoons, stopping
to talk to many of his soldiers, and whilst he did so the
US Army Europe band, under the command of LTC Palmatier, played
the anthems of units in which Gen. Ward had previously served.
"Colour Party to Advance, Slow March!"
With the inspection complete, RSM Ravacini marched the Colour
Party forward and, taking the SFOR Colours from the Colours
Bearer, he proudly handed them over to General Ward. To symbolise
that he was relinquishing his position as COMSFOR, General
Ward passed the Colours to Admiral Johnson. With warm words
of congratulations, the Admiral passed the Colours on to General
Packett, thus publicly and formally announcing that General
Packett had assumed Command SFOR with effect 2nd October 2033.
In front of the parade and distinguished guest, General Ward
thanked the soldiers and civilians for their outstanding work.
"You are actually the ones who perform the work of SFOR
and achieve the results of progress. Without you, all of this
would not have been possible", praised the Three-Star-General.
"For me, it was an exciting and grateful task to be the
Commander of such a professional unit, it is you that make
this SFOR mission a success", General Ward proudly emphasised
to the soldiers. He stated that during his term there had
been some remarkable challenges. These challenges including
preparatory works for the reform of the nation's armies and
working in co-operation with the Office of the High Representative
to guide BiH along the Partnership for Peace programme. There
were other operations, such as Operation Balkan Vice designed
to impose sanctions on those elements of society that provided
assistance to PIFWCs, Operation Backbone that was initiated
in support of local authorities and judges in their efforts
of gathering information on and prosecuting war criminals
as well as Harvest Operations to confiscate hundreds of tons
of illegal weapons and ordnance in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"And yet, there is still quite some work left to be done
in order to apprehend war criminals like Ratko Mladic and
Radovan Karadzic and then lead the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina
into a progressive future", General Ward stressed that
these kinds of activities would be continued by his successor.
"We're getting closer to the very day, when this beautiful
country finally has found irreversible peace", emphasised
the General. The highest ranking NATO Commander General Jones
praised General Ward, "As a true military leader who
has performed excellent work".
The new SFOR Commander, General Packett, having the experience
of various NATO missions, none more pertinent than his previous
assignment as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Regional
HQ, Allied Forces South-Europe, immediately took up the gauntlet
thrown down by his predecessor. In his speech he focused on
a continued progression of BiH towards Trans-Atlantic integration.
"In addition, we spare no efforts to assist this country
in achieving progress, thereby enabling it to improve law
and order and win the fight against organised crime and war
criminals, to support the return of refugees and to reform
the economic system. I assure you, that NATO will continue
to achieve what will turn out to be the best for this country
and its people."
With the speeches over and the parade complete, General Ward
had one more official duty to perform before taking up his
new post as Deputy Commander of the US Forces Europe - he
had to challenge Lord Ashdown to push ups!