News: New commander for Multinational Battle Group-East
Story by Sgt. Angela Parady
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - A South Carolina National Guard Brigade assumed responsibility of Multinational Battle Group- East in Kosovo during a Transfer of Authority ceremony at Camp Bondsteel Sept. 22.
The 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, based out of Charleston, South Carolina joined National Guard Soldiers from over 20 different states as part of Kosovo Force 16. They took the reins from the 157th MEB based out of Milwaukee, Wis., who arrived in December.
Kosovo Force Commander Maj. Gen. Volker Halbauer transferred responsibility of MNBG-E from Col. Jefferey J. Liethen, commander of the 157th MEB to Col. Waymon B. Storey III, 218th MEB commander.
Storey thanked Liethen and his staff, as well as the staff at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and Hohenfels, Germany for their support in preparing his team for this mission.
“Your battle group is a well-trained, well-equipped and wellled organization committed to your authority, priorities and leadership,” he said to Halbauer. “You can expect us to continue the mission of providing support for the safety and security of Kosovo in a professional and proficient manner.”
The outgoing commander, Liethen thanked all of the Soldiers of MNGB-E for their hard work and dedication to the KFOR mission. He recognized their ability to conquer the known challenges and the unknown in achieving the mission of providing a safe and secure environment, and freedom of movement for all the citizens of Kosovo.
During Liethen’s speech he recognized KFOR 15 for their role in removing the South Rudare roadblock. He expressed the importance of working together as a team.
“Right from the start, we were able to come together as a team. A NATO Battle Group comprised of Soldiers from 30 U.S. States and nine different nations. As such a diverse group, I was very much impressed that we were able to come together as quickly as we did. We discovered that it’s not too difficult when we all work together to achieve a common goal.”
Liethen expressed his appreciation to Storey, who will be continuing the KFOR mission.
“I wish you great success in building upon the work of the KFOR 15 Soldiers and our predecessors.”
Halbauer also spoke during the ceremony. He pointed to the accomplishments of KFOR 15 and his hopes for the new soldiers.
“Col. Liethen can be proud to have commanded such a capable multinational force which helped shape the future of Kosovo. Col. Storey can be proud to assume command of a unit with the legacy of MNGB-E, and I challenge you and your Soldiers to pick up the gauntlet and write your own chapter in the battle group’s history, forward together.”
The United States has sent soldiers since the United Nations Security Council passed a Resolution 1244 authorizing the plan for peace in Kosovo. The peacekeeping operation, headed by NATO, has been monitoring the region since 1999. The 16th rotation of U.S. soldiers will continue to fulfill the role of their predecessors and continue to help the people of Kosovo build a better future.