U.S. Soldiers coming home early from Kosovo mission

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
March 8, 2010

Marvin Harley, a contractor employee with Kellogg Brown & Root Services, ground guides an M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle driven by Blerim Spahiu at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, March 5, 2010. The fighting vehicle is one of the last six U.S. Army armored combat vehicles shipped out of Kosovo last week as part of the NATO restructuring of the Kosovo Force due to the improved security situation there.
Marvin Harley, a contractor employee with Kellogg Brown & Root Services, ground guides an M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle driven by Blerim Spahiu at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, March 5, 2010. The fighting vehicle is one of the last six U.S. Army armored combat vehicles shipped out of Kosovo last week as part of the NATO restructuring of the Kosovo Force due to the improved security situation there.

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Hundreds of U.S. Soldiers currently serving as part of the 31-country NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) are scheduled to return home early as a result of continued NATO force structure adjustments brought on by the improved security situation in Kosovo.

Approximately 570 of the nearly 1,400 U.S. Soldiers of Multinational Battle Group-East (MNBG-E), including units based in California, Hawaii, Kansas and North Dakota, as well as the U.S. territory Virgin Islands, are expected to return to the United States in May, according to the current plan coordinated with NATO by U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR)

Formerly called Multi-National Task Force-East, MNBG-E officially gained its new name in February signifying its transformation to a more responsive and flexible force structure under KFOR's "Deterrent Presence" plan. The change is in response to the improving security situation throughout Kosovo, brought about by the hard work and cooperation of the citizens and institutions in Kosovo. Under the Deterrent Presence plan, military forces throughout Kosovo have been adjusted from 14,000 to a total force size of 10,000, by order of the North Atlantic Council, the civilian body that oversees NATO.

MNBG-E is a U.S. led multi-national task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. The battle group is currently comprised of armed forces from the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard, Greece, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Turkey.  After completion of this phase of the NATO-directed restructuring, MNBG-E will consist of approximately 1,500 troops of which 720 are U.S.  This U.S. contingent arrived at their location in Camp Bondsteel in late October, after more than two months of post-mobilization training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and Hohenfels, Germany.

The decision on which specific Soldiers redeploy in May, and those that will remain in Kosovo until July or August were based on the particular capabilities and positions required.  These decisions were carefully evaluated to ensure the KFOR mission of maintaining a safe and secure environment is not jeopardized.

The National Guard Bureau is working with the Soldiers of each state to mitigate any hardships presented by the redeployment of the Soldiers returning to their respective home stations.

The Puerto Rico Army National Guard is the next U.S. contingent to take over the NATO peacekeeping responsibilities of MNBG-E in the summer of 2010.

·         Below are  the specific units and approximate number of Soldiers returning to each state in May 2010

o   Approximately 160 Soldiers of the 231st Maneuver Task Force (231st Brigade Support Battalion), Valley City N.D. and Soldiers of the Headquarters & Headquarters Company of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of North Dakota.

o   Approximately 350 Soldiers of the  1-144th Maneuver Task Force (1-144th Field Artillery Battalion) Los Angeles, California  Army National Guard.

o   Approximately 12 Soldiers of the Hawaii-based 322nd Civil Affairs, Detachment 5, U.S. Army Reserves

o   Approximately 20 Soldiers of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion/137th Infantry, Kansas Army National Guard

o   Approximately 60 Soldiers of the 661st Military Police Company of the Virgin Islands Army National Guard