CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – NATO’s Kosovo Force officially welcomed the 32nd rotation of U.S. Soldiers taking responsibility for the Regional Command – East mission during a transfer of authority ceremony, June 30, 2023.
KFOR transferred authority between the outgoing RC-East team, 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Nighthawk from Indiana and the incoming 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Texans from Texas.
“We have been blessed and couldn’t have asked for a better team,” said Col. Chris Mabis, commander of the 76th. “You have all been tremendous teammates and I am forever grateful for your dedication to this mission.”
The ceremony started with the National Anthem, sung a cappella by Task Force Texans and Alabama National Guard 1st. Lt. Timothy Lett, a helicopter flyover and the changing of state flags, from Indiana to Texas. In front of the three flag poles, that prominently display the American flag, the state flag of the current Regional Commander and the NATO flag, leaders from the 76th cased their unit’s colors, officially signifying the conclusion of their nine-month mission in the region, followed by leaders from the 56th IBCT unfurling their unit’s colors, representing the beginning of their mission in Kosovo.
“The actions and contributions of Task Force Nighthawk have been invaluable and will have lasting impacts for years to come,” said Maj. Gen. Angelo Ristuccia, KFOR commander. “The U.S. has provided world-class Soldiers to the KFOR mission over the years.”
During the 76th’s tour, RC-East completed 219 air mission requests, more than 2,500 patrols and more than 3,000 soldier-leader engagements.
“I look forward to working with international organizations and the institutions in Kosovo to support peace and stability in the region,” said Col. Ross Walker, commander of the 56th IBCT and incoming commander of RC-East. “We’re here to maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.”
Soldiers from Texas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Alabama, and Illinois National Guard units join Soldiers from ten contributing partner nations, forming the Regional Command East team, all dedicated to maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999.