CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — Mayors from across Multinational Battle Group East’s area of operation visited Camp Bondsteel July 9 to meet the incoming commander, Army Col. Francisco J. Neuman.
During this meeting they also had the opportunity to say goodbye to the outgoing commander Army Brig. Gen. Alan S. Dohrmann.
The event kicked off with appetizers and greetings from Dohrmann, who thanked the mayors for their help and praised the progress made during the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) 12 rotation. He also asked for their assistance during the transition to the new commander.
“Instrumental in that progress has been the support that all of the mayors and local governments in our sector have shown our Liaison and Monitoring Team (LMT) soldiers since we arrived in Kosovo,” said Dohrmann. “The LMTs are the primary connection between Battle Group East and the people in our area of responsibility and they would not have been as successful without important assistance from the municipalities that came in the form of office space, information and friendship. Thanks to all of you for providing this assistance.”
Dohrmann continued by introducing Neuman, the officer that will be replacing him as commander of MNBG E on July 24.
“It is with mixed feelings that we prepare to handover responsibility,” said Dohrmann. “Soon, soldiers from KFOR 12 and I will be departing Kosovo, a place we have called home for the better part of nine months. This land and its wonderful people will always hold a special place in our hearts.”
After Dohrmann’s remarks, Neuman thanked the mayors for attending the meeting and explained his past history with Kosovo.
“It’s a pleasure to meet and visit with you this afternoon,” said Neuman. “I look forward to working with you and continuing the excellent relationships built by KFOR 12. This is not my first time in Kosovo. This is my third deployment here. I came in 2000 and then again in 2006-2007. I have seen the imporvements made by the people here and I can honestly say I feel a part of the history here."
After Neuman’s remarks each mayor took a few minutes to thank Dohrmann for everything he and his team accomplished during his rotation and to greet Neuman. Dohrmann then presented gifts to each mayor.
“I have been inside each of your offices,” said Dohrmann. “I have seen flags, patches and coins. I wanted to get you all a unique gift, something you will remember, and something that signifies North Dakota.”
Each mayor was given a statuette made of lignite coal, a mineral found in both North Dakota and Kosovo, in the shape of a bison, an animal native to the North Dakota area.
“It will be difficult to say good-bye to our friends and colleagues who will remain here after we are gone, but there is also a great sense of excitement among our soldiers to return home and reunite with our families," said Dohrmann. "Most importantly, we will all leave with a sense of satisfaction over their good work here in Kosovo and the significant progress we have seen first-hand.”