Date: December 12, 2011
Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - A Wisconsin Army National Guard brigade assumed responsibility of Multinational Battle Group East (MNBG E) during a formal ceremony at Camp Bondsteel Dec. 10.
The 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), based out of Milwaukee, joined 12 other National Guard units and one Army Reserve unit from throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico as part of Kosovo Forces 15. They assumed responsibility from the New Mexico Army National Guard's 111th MEB, based out of Rio Rancho, N.M., which arrived in April.
The Kosovo Force commander, Maj. Gen. Erhard Drews, transferred responsibility of MNBG E from Col. Michael D. Schwartz, commander of the 111th MEB, to Col. Jeffrey J. Liethen, 157th MEB commander.
"As you know, we are one of many U.S. KFOR rotations," Liethen said at the ceremony. "Through the years, KFOR rotations have changed, just as Kosovo has changed, but one thing remains the same - our collective commitment to maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement throughout Kosovo.
"I want to take this opportunity to emphasize that as commander, my objective is to continue to build upon the work done by the Soldiers of KFOR 14 and their predecessors," he added. "We look forward to working with our multinational partners and continuing to maintain a safe and secure environment for the people of Kosovo."
Schwartz spoke of the outstanding relationship forged between the many nations in the battle group.
"As I have said many times before to our Soldiers, our multinational partners are not part of the battle group - they are the battle group," he said. "Without any one member, our mission would have been much more difficult. Together, as a single organization, we accomplished many remarkable feats. We are truly a more mobile, capable force than ever before."
Drews said he was confident that the future of Multinational Battle Group East would be in capable hands.
"I am more than convinced that you will lead Multinational Battle Group East in the same outstanding manner as did Col. Schwartz," he said to Liethen.
The U.S. contingent of MNBG E is comprised of approximately 700 troops from 10 states and one U.S. territory. Multinational partners in MNBG E include France, Germany, Hellas (Greece), Morocco, Poland, Turkey, Armenia and Ukraine.
KFOR 15's yearlong deployment began in September at Camp Atterbury, Ind. and U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels, Germany, where they received training on the tasks they would perform in Kosovo.
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans