CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- After nearly
a month of training in Hohenfels, Germany, the 38th Infantry
Division, from 19 different U.S. states, took command
of the Multi-national Brigade (East) Kosovo Forces from
the 34th Infantry Division Aug. 31.
Each U.S. Army unit rotating into the KFOR area of responsibility
spends time in Hohenfels training with the 7th Army Training
Command, and it's that training which outgoing commander,
Brig. Gen. Rick Erlandson, credited for allowing his troops
to quell violent rioting in March.
"To take an entire brigade of our size and transition
them from steady-state operations to combating violence
is a challenging task which requires the utmost in quality
training," Erlandson said.
"We really do have great reserve soldiers coming
from the United States which we take great pride in,"
said Gen. B.B. Bell, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe.
"We train them before they get here at Hohenfels
and Grafenwoehr. We watch over them with great consideration
while they are here and we celebrate their successes that
they have on these missions."
And success is what these Task Force Falcon Soldiers
of the 34th were able to achieve during their six-month
tour. Their accomplishments included more than 20,000
patrols, 4,000 vehicle checks, 5,000 accident-free flight
hours and 19 medical evacuations. They also treated more
than 3,000 Kosovars through the Medical Civilian Assistance
Program, "You (34th Infantry Division soldiers) performed
the mission to provide a safe and secure environment and
assist in the transition to civil authorities," Erlandson
said. "You have succeeded in each and every task
and challenge that you were faced with and have done so
with unprecedented dedication, professionalism and motivation."
This transfer of authority ceremony is "the 11th
such transfer since 1999, and confirms the fact that NATO
and America (is) continuing to support the United Nation's
plan for Kosovo," said Brig. Gen. Tod Carmony, incoming
Although the reserve troops fall under NATO control
while in the KFOR area, they still rely on U.S. Army Europe
for administrative control.
"We're responsible for all the administrative support
for these soldiers," Bell said. "If they need
finance help it's my problem. If there is any kind of
normal routine help it's our responsibility in USAREUR."
The support and training the 38th receives will help
them focus on their primary mission to ensure a safe and
secure environment and transfer of control to civil authority.
"Our soldiers are dedicated and well trained; they
will do their part," Carmony said. "But in the
end it will be the good people of Kosovo, through their
hard work and dedication, to construct a path toward a
future of hope and prosperity."