CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo The North Dakota National Guard-led task force known as Multi-National Task Force-East on Monday officially changed its name to Multi-National Battle Group East, signifying the task force's transformation to a more responsive and flexible force structure.
The change is in response to the ever improving security situation throughout Kosovo, brought about by the hard work and cooperation of the people and institutions in Kosovo.
"This is not only a change in name; it's a change in the way we will conduct operations in Battle Group East," said Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Bismarck, commander of the battle group. "The intent is that it will be more of a tactical reserve force so that, if needed as a third responder behind the Kosovo Police and EULEX (European Rule of Law in Kosovo), we can respond quickly and decisively anytime and anywhere we are called."
Under the new plan, which is known as "Deterrent Presence," the North Atlantic Council, the civilian body that oversees NATO, has said military forces throughout Kosovo will be adjusted to a total force size of 10,000 by Feb. 1. At that time, all five Multi-National Task Forces in Kosovo will be renamed Multi-National Battle Groups. Some task forces have already made the change in name.
The N.D. National Guard soldiers currently in Kosovo are included in NATO's 10,000-soldier force structure plan.
Currently, the N.D. Army National Guard's 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fargo, is the headquarters unit for more than 2,000 U.S. and multi-national soldiers who make up Multi-National Battle Group-East. Other N.D. units in Kosovo include the 231st Brigade Support Battalion, Valley City, and the 957th Multi-role Bridge Company, Bismarck.
While in Kosovo, the N.D. units have served with soldiers from five other nations Greece, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Armenia.
The new plan also calls for Kosovo Force in the Multi-National Battle Group-East sector to adjust the number of patrols it conducts in urban areas, where the institutions in Kosovo have proven their ability to provide security. The adjustments are designed to increase Multi-National Battle Group-East mobility, flexibility and ability to quickly respond when and if Kosovo Police or EULEX require support no matter where in Kosovo.
"KFOR's adaptation to the battle group structure will lead to a more flexible, mobile and agile force," Dohrmann said. "The name 'battle group' does not refer to a fighting mission, but reflects standard NATO terminology in regard to its structure of forces. These changes are not in response to, nor in preparation for, any ongoing or expected situation in Kosovo.
"We also will be conducting more military training exercises to demonstrate the validity of the Deterrent Presence concept."
Dohrmann said as conditions in Kosovo continue improving, the forces of Kosovo Forces will continue to adapt and be more responsive to a wider area.
"This is a positive change that reflects the natural evolution of a successful mission," Dohrmann said. "In 1999, there were more than 50,000 soldiers in the region along with many capabilities no longer needed. This is just another step along that path to a brighter future in Kosovo."
Dohrmann said one thing that will not change for Multi-National Group-East is its primary mission: to maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.
"The Kosovo Police and EULEX have consistently demonstrated the capability to provide safety and security for all citizens and institutions in Kosovo that is a success story," Dohrmann said. "As with KFOR, the time has come for Kosovo to embrace change and look to the positive developments taking place all around us."