HEIDELBERG, Germany —Task Force East, the U.S.-Romanian and U.S.-Bulgarian initiative, is getting a new U.S. Army commander as of June 3.
Army Col. Gary R. Russ concludes his tenure as the TF-E commander after spending over a year facilitating combined multi-national training exercises at training facilities near Mokren, Bulgaria and Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania.
"It has been an honor to be a part of Task Force East and it has been a great privilege to have the opportunity to work so closely with our Romanian and Bulgarian military partners and local civilian leadership,” said Russ. “The bonds I have made with my new Romanian and Bulgarian friends this past year and a half I will always cherish."
Task Force-East is a United States European Command initiative executed by U.S. Army Europe. It’s designed to strengthen relationships between the United States and its Eastern European allies. TF-E provides the United States and its partners in Romania and Bulgaria with training facilities and staff in both countries to facilitate combined training. The program focuses on enhancing partner capacity and fostering regional cooperation.
Army Lt. Col. William G. Jones, from Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe, will assume duties as the interim commander of the task force immediately. U.S. Army Europe Headquarters is expected to announce a new TF-E commander in the coming weeks. Russ is departing later this month for an assignment in Korea with Eighth U.S. Army Headquarters.
"Romania and Bulgaria are incredibly important strategic partners to the U.S. - the unending cooperation and support I have received during my tenure here is proof of the strength and commitment to this partnership,” said Russ. “I am certain my replacement will enjoy this strong military and civilian relationship as I have."
TF-E has two multi-million dollar, U.S.-funded shared-use facilities. Romania has a new 1,600-troop capacity facility located on the Romanian Land Forces Administrative Center in the city of Mihail Kogalniceanu that is expected to be fully operational very soon. The new 2,500-troop capacity facility under construction on the Bulgarian Novo Selo Training area is expected to be completed in 2012.