36th Infantry Division takes over in Kosovo
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — For the first time in more than six decades, the colors of the 36th Infantry Division are flying again in Europe.
The Texas National Guard unit, which fought in Italy during World War II, took over Kosovo Force’s Multi-National Brigade (East) in a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday. The 36th assumes responsibility of the U.S. sector of the province from the 40th Infantry Division from California and will be carrying out peacekeeping duties for the next year.
“I promise you this,” Brig. Gen. Darren Owens was quoted as saying in a news release, “we will not take sides. We will support the political process to determine the future status of Kosovo. We will do our part, working hand in hand with the police and civil authorities, to make this a place where decent folks can live without fear.
“So now is the time and now is the hour for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the hard work of peace and let no one stand in the way.”
Owens and Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Boyer unfurled the colors during the ceremony, which was attended by Italian Lt. Gen. Giuseppe Valotto, commander of Kosovo Force. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, acting deputy commander of U.S. Army Europe and a past commander of MNB-East, also attended.
The 36th was organized in 1917 for service in World War I. It deactivated in 1968, but was reborn in 2004 when the 49th Armored Division was reflagged. Soldiers from the division have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. Soldiers from the 49th led U.S. operations in Bosnia in 2000.
National Guard units from Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kansas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Alabama and Puerto Rico also are serving in the current task force.