News: Task Force Aviation 'Cashing Out'
Story by Sgt. Angela Parady
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Task Force Cash, Multinational Battle Group- East’s aviation unit, passed responsibility to Task Force Phalanx in a transfer of authority ceremony held at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, May 1, 2013.
“The time has come in our deployment for us to ‘Cash Out’ and begin our journey home to family and friends,” said Lt. Col. Matthew McDermott, Commander of Task Force Cash. “We have set the conditions for success for KFOR 17 Aviation, Task Force Phalanx to successfully execute aviation operations in support of the MNBG-E mission of providing a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for the people of Kosovo.”
The outgoing task force included Army National Guard Soldiers from California, Arkansas, South Carolina and Hawaii. These soldiers have been deployed to Kosovo for a year in support of NATO’s Operation Joint Guardian peacekeeping mission.
They began their journey on July 5, 2012, with mobilization training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. They left August 11 for Camp Bondsteel to conduct mission rehearsal exercises and complete extensive training with their predecessor for the peace-keeping operation.
Those operations have included air movement, resupply, quick reaction, command and control, and MEDEVAC missions. Though it all, Task Force Cash has provided continuous effective and safe aviation support to MNBG-E.
“You have done an excellent job here,” said Col. Waymon B. Storey, Commander of MNBG-E. “Kosovo is an interesting environment to perform in, especially as an aviator. I have seen every facet of weather here, within an hour, and most of it I wasn’t expecting. But it didn’t matter where we were, or what the mission called for. You all made it happen. You made a daily difference here. Every mission set that we focused on, that we planned was centered on aviation. Never once did they say, we can’t do that sir, we don’t have the assets. They always said, yes sir, we got it.”
Aviation duties for the NATO mission will now be resumed by National Guard Soldiers from Maryland, Florida, Oregon and Indiana. Lt. Col. Michael Whelan, Maryland National Guard, will command Task Force Phalanx.
Storey put his confidence in Whelan and his soldiers.
“You all, in my eyes, fit the professional aviator that we need here,” said Storey. “I am sure you will keep pushing us towards the conclusion of the mission in Kosovo. That is the end state we are after. We can make a difference on a daily basis so that we can turn this mission over to the people of Kosovo. As long as we keep sending the professional soldier who is committed to making a difference, we will be successful.”
According to McDermott, since Sept 1, Task Force Cash completed a total of 1,940 flight hours. This number includes 16 MEDEVAC missions, 19 Quick Reaction Force missions, and flying over 2,200 passengers. Task Force Cash successfully supported KFOR 16 with MEDEVAC and QRF response in addition to training and coordination with KFOR multinational forces.