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Brig. Gen. James R. Mason unfurls the 35th Infantry Division flag at the Multinational Brigade North transfer of authority ceremony held at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Monday. The Kansas Army National Guard division took over command from Pennsylvania National Guard's 28th Infantry Division.

Brig. Gen. James R. Mason unfurls the 35th Infantry Division flag at the Multinational Brigade North transfer of authority ceremony held at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Monday. The Kansas Army National Guard division took over command from Pennsylvania National Guard's 28th Infantry Division. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)

EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — The rolling up of one flag and the unfurling of another marked the end of the 12th Stabilization Force rotation and the beginning of the next one in Multinational Brigade North.

“The soldiers of SFOR 13 are well prepared to be persuasive in peace,” declared Brig. Gen. James R. Mason, commander of the incoming 35th Infantry Division.

The transfer of authority to the Kansas-based unit from Pennsylvania’s 28th Infantry Division was the first time in more than eight years of peacekeeping that both the outgoing and the incoming troops are National Guard.

Before a group of international civilian and military officials, Lt. Gen. William Ward, the SFOR commander, commended the Pennsylvania Guardsmen for their accomplishments.

The troops worked closely with Bosnian policemen, helped Bosnian businessmen deal with bureaucratic obstacles, and supported schools and refugee camps with hundreds of boxes of donations, Ward said.

They also contributed to smooth Bosnian national elections, improved demining techniques and bettered arms control.

And they had the best safety record of any SFOR rotation so far, in spite of the winter conditions.

The Keystone troops rolled up more than 150,000 kilometers patrolling the country, collected more than 15,000 hand grenades, destroyed some 45,000 land mines, 1,300 rocket launchers and thousands of small rounds, said Brig. Gen. John von Trott, the outgoing MNB North commander.

Although it is hard to measure success in peacekeeping, von Trott said, he feels his soldiers are leaving Bosnia “a little more secure, a little more safe, and a little more prosperous.”

Before the Hungarian army band concluded the ceremony by playing “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” Mason said that his soldiers are well equipped, well trained and willing to assume their assigned responsibilities.

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