In the afternoon of 1st September 2004, the Change of
Command Ceremony of Commander Kosovo Force (COMKFOR) was
held at Headquarters Kosovo Force. Lieutenant General
Yves de Kermabon, French Army, took command of the Kosovo
Force, taking over from Lieutenant General Holger Kammerhoff,
The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General
James Jones (US Marines), presided over the event. The
officiating Officer was the Commander of Joint Force Command
Naples (COMJFC N), Admiral Gregory Johnson (US Navy).
During this occasion the Special Representative of Secretary
General (SRSG), Mr. Søren Jessen-Petersen, the
French Minister of Defense, Mrs. Michele Alliot-Marie,
the President and the Prime Minister of Kosovo and other
dignitaries were present as well as a number of other
very senior officers and officials from France and Germany.
The total number of military personnel and guests either
on parade or attending was more than 500.
The ceremony started with speeches from the guests of
honor. The outgoing COMKFOR LTG Holger Kammerhoff said,
"Today is a special day. It is a fitting way to close
my time in command and equally it is a fitting occasion
with which to mark the beginning of General de Kermabon's
appointment. The KFOR mission does not end or start with
the ceremony. Indeed the ceremony re-affirms the unshakeable
commitment by NATO and partner nations to underpin security
to allow the UN authority to continue to develop a democratic,
pluralistic society able to sustain itself politically,
economically and in law. To you, the soldiers on parade,
I am impressed with your bearing and high standards. You
carry the KFOR flag with pride. My congratulations to
you all. You are credit to your units, to your countries
and to KFOR."
Admiral Johnson also made his speech and in particular:
"I am honored to have this opportunity to personally
thank each of you for your great soldiering, that you
accomplished over the past year and to pay tribute to
your achievements in helping everyone in Kosovo live a
life free of fear and in full possession of the opportunity
to realize his or her full potential. This transfer of
authority is a type of celebration, reflection and welcome:
celebration of KFOR remarkable achievements under General
Kammerhoff’s command, reflection on what remains
to be done to ensure the future of all the promising possibilities
for all who live in Kosovo, and finally, of course, to
welcome the new KFOR Commander (and former Deputy Commander)
LTG Yves de Kermabon."
On the ceremony there were more than 120 representatives
of local and international press, broadcasting companies
from France, Czech Republic, FYROM and also three local
broadcasting companies. Two local TV companies, RTK and
KTV, broadcast the ceremony live.
At the end of the ceremony the German Military Band
performed for the guests and the incoming COMKFOR invited
everyone for a reception at Film City.
The new COMKFOR, LTG Yves de Kermabon, was born on 4th
November 1948. He entered the French Military Academy
of Saint-Cyr in 1970 and chose to serve in the Armor and
Cavalry branch. LTG de Kermabon is now serving his third
tour of duty in Kosovo. The new COMKFOR is the ninth Commander
of the Kosovo Force since its deployment to Kosovo.