CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – The Polish contingent of Multinational Battle Group East held a Transfer of Authority ceremony here, Sept. 25.
Guests and distinguished visitors from KFOR and other organizations gathered for the ceremony that marked the end of 21st rotation of Polish troops and the beginning of the 22nd Polish rotation for Kosovo Forces, the NATO peace support operation in Kosovo. KFOR is tasked with maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.
The outgoing soldiers witnessed changes within the Battle Group as it became more agile and adaptable to the new mission focus. MNBG E recognized them for their outstanding effort in support as third responders behind the Kosovo Police and European Rule of Law mission in Kosovo. Lt. Col. Dariusz Kosowski, outgoing commander, highlighted the accomplishments of his troops.
“The tasks set to us were realized at high levels mainly due to your full commitment and high discipline. I can say with pride that the tasks set to you were accomplished in an exemplary way,” said Kosowski. He also wished the best for the incoming contingent.
“I hope your experience in cooperating with other commanders and soldiers will be as good as ours,” Kosowski said. “I also hope that the mission days will pass in peace and quiet, that they will bring you satisfaction, and that in six month’s time you will come back to your homes and families safe and sound.”
The incoming Polish soldiers will work in a larger area of operation, as MNBG E takes responsibility for MNBG Center. Lt. Col. Krzysztof Monkiewicz, the incoming Polish commander, spoke about the mission for his troops, and also thanked the soldiers from the previous Polish rotation.
“I am aware of our responsibilities. We are here to maintain peace and to support the local community under the banner of KFOR,” Monkiewicz said, adding that his troops are ready to perform that mission. “I would like to thank Lt. Col. Kosowski and your soldiers for executing at the highest level. You can leave Kosovo knowing that (your rotation completed) a job well done.”
Col. Francisco J. Neuman, Ponce, Puerto Rico, commander of MNBG E and a member of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, praised the outgoing soldiers for their work, and welcomed the new members of MNBG E.
“I have seen firsthand how the Polish forces have some of the most demanding tasks in the Battle Group – Security Patrols, Crowd and Riot Control and Quick Reaction Force missions,” Col. Neuman said. He added that these jobs require great skill and discipline, and that the incoming soldiers are prepared. “Soldiers must be ready on a moment’s notice to deploy anywhere within Kosovo. I know these fine individuals are more than up to the challenge ahead.”
Col. Stanislaw Sprawka, from the Polish army’s Operations Command based in Warsaw, signed the transfer of authority documents along with the incoming and outgoing commanders. The ceremony also featured the Polish national anthem and other patriotic songs.
The outgoing Polish contingent is based in the northern city of Braniewo and the incoming contingent is based nearby in Elblag. Both groups are comprised of soldiers from the 16th Mechanized Division.
Distinguished visitors included Marta Przenioslo, chargé d'affaires for Poland in the Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, several Polish police officers, including Assistant Commissioner Marcin Wydra, Greek army Col. Chatzithoefanour Georgirn, commander of MNBG E’s Hellas Coy, and Command Sgt. Major Gilbert Arocho, command sergeant major of MNBG E.