KFOR Chronicle
Change of Command COMKFOR
By Major Stefan Ratzenberger, AUSOC
Photos by Mr. Armend Aqifi

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, German Army.

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.