CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo —
The latest rotation of Multi-National Battle Group – East (MNBG-E) and the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) mission began March 20, when Col. Michael Spraggins, commander of 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
, Arkansas National Guard
, transferred the authority of MNBG-E to its 24th commander.
“This mission has a very personal significance for me,” said Col. Nick Ducich, the newest MNBG-E commander, with the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
, California National Guard
. “I’m the first American officer of Serbian heritage to command Multi-National Battle Group – East. I am privileged to be serving here and devote my utmost commitment for a safe and secure environment for all people of Kosovo.”
Brig. Gen. Janos Csombok, Deputy Commander of Kosovo Force - KFOR
, presided over the ceremony and awarded Spraggins the NATO medal, concluding his mission in Kosovo.
“It is with joy and sadness that I speak to you today,” Spraggins said. “The joy that I and the rest of my KFOR 23 team, will soon be home with our families and friends after an outstanding deployment.”
We are also joyful that our mission in Kosovo was successful, Spraggins added, and that it was one marked with peace and security for the people of Kosovo.
“The sadness that I feel is that it is time for me to say goodbye to many new friends, and also to a country and people who I’ve grown to love deeply,” Spraggins said.
Spraggins also wished the incoming KFOR 24 team a great rotation and spoke about his nine-month tour.
“We trained diligently for the mission and were joined by great allies here from Poland, Romania and Turkey,” Spraggins said. “We banded together to create this MNBG-E team for a mutual cause of peace and stability. We are proud to strengthen this tremendous alliance through training and daily exercise of interoperability; our efforts alongside our NATO allies and partners reassured everyone in the region that we are strong as NATO. We are here. We are committed.”
During the ceremony, Spraggins and Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Stane, commanding the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, cased their colors and Ducich and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, command team of the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, uncased theirs, signifying the commencement of the latest rotation of the KFOR mission.