CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – A new U.S.-led NATO Kosovo Force battle group, predominately based out of Puerto Rico, officially took over responsibility of Multinational Battle Group East July 24.
This unit is joining units from six other nations, all of which are supporting the NATO mission of maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the people in Kosovo.
At the event, Puerto Rican army Col. Francisco J. Neuman, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, commander of the 92nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the soldiers under his command, officially accepted responsibility of MNBG E from Army Brig. Gen. Alan S. Dohrmann, of Bismarck, N.D., commander of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, from Bismarck, N.D., and the soldiers in his battle group.
The U.S. contingent of MNBG E, of which approximately two-thirds are Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers, is represented by soldiers from 21 states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
MNBG E’s sector stretches along Kosovo’s eastern Administrative Boundary Line, and is one of five sectors where NATO peacekeeping forces conduct patrols and engage with the people and institutions in Kosovo.
Dohrmann and the soldiers of the 141st MEB have been providing safety and security in Kosovo since they took over the mission in November 2009. Neuman said he looks forward to continuing that important mission with the help of multinational partners from Armenia, Hellas (Greece), Poland, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine.
“I am energized by the strong performance of KFOR 12,” said Neuman. “As I look forward, my objective is to continue building on the work accomplished by KFOR 12 and its predecessors over the past several years. Without a doubt, progress is being made in Kosovo.”
The incoming soldiers under Neuman’s command started training for this deployment at their home stations in March, continued training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and in Hohenfels, Germany. They began arriving in Kosovo in late June.
“We are a diverse group that came together at our mobilization station and have become a strong cohesive organization,” Neuman said. “I am honored for the opportunity to lead Multinational Battle Group East. My Soldiers are ready. We all look forward to supporting you (the people in Kosovo) in this important mission.”
Neuman and Dohrmann were joined at the ceremony by German Lt. Gen. Markus Bentler, commander of KFOR, as well as Puerto Rican army Maj. Gen. Antonio J. Vicens and Army Maj. Gen. David A. Sprynczynatyk, the Adjutants General of Puerto Rico and North Dakota. Finnish Brig. Gen. Seppo Toivonen, commanding general of MNBG Center, and German Brig. Gen. Stephen Thomas, commanding general of MNBG South, also attended the ceremony.
Other distinguished guests in attendance included Ambassador Christopher Dell, the U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, Ambassador Metin Husrev Unler, the Turkish ambassador to Kosovo, Ambassador Dimitris Moschopoulos, head of the Liaison Office of Greece in Pristina/Prishtine; and Maftei Danut, head of the Liaison Office of Romania in Pristina/Prishtine. Several municipality mayors and high-ranking civil and military leaders from throughout Kosovo were present as well.
This is Neuman’s third deployment to Kosovo as part of the NATO-led international force, having served as the commander of the 755th Military Police Company, Operation Joint Guardian in 2000, and as the Battalion Commander and provost marshal for Task Force Semper Lex, 29th Infantry Division, Operation Enduring Freedom from 2006 to 2007.
Neuman has been the commander of the 92nd for nearly two years.