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Brig. Gen. Timothy Wright, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Severe, unroll the flag of the 38th Infantry Division of the Indiana National Guard at a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Brig. Gen. Timothy Wright, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Severe, unroll the flag of the 38th Infantry Division of the Indiana National Guard at a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)
Brig. Gen. Timothy Wright, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Severe, unroll the flag of the 38th Infantry Division of the Indiana National Guard at a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Brig. Gen. Timothy Wright, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Severe, unroll the flag of the 38th Infantry Division of the Indiana National Guard at a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)
Brig. Gen. Richard Nash, left, and Brig. Gen. Timothy Wright speak to the press before a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Brig. Gen. Richard Nash, left, and Brig. Gen. Timothy Wright speak to the press before a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)

EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Soldiers in the 38th Infantry Division from the Indiana National Guard became the 15th, and possibly last, rotation of American peacekeepers in Bosnia on Wednesday.

The group of 800 soldiers replaced 1,300 members of the 34th Infantry Division from the Minnesota National Guard.

The transfer of authority was official when Brig. Gen. Richard Nash handed the Stabilization Force’s guidon to incoming commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Wright.

During the ceremony, Nash said that the Red Bull soldiers can look proudly on their accomplishments.

They helped collect and destroy 1,278 rifles and automatic guns, 1.3 million pieces of ammunition, 123 mortars, 109 rocket launchers, more than 13,000 grenades and 15 tons of explosives. Local forces demined 18 minefields during SFOR 14’s rotation.

Also, 1,500 tons of explosives and almost 5,000 surface-to-air missiles from local military storage sites were destroyed.

Troops helped build or repair numerous roads and bridges and completed a number of water projects. They helped thousands of Bosnians at local schools and orphanages, and their families pitched in by collecting and sending donated supplies. They provided basic medical care to more than 1,500 Bosnians by holding some 35 events for the Medical Civilian Assistance Program.

“You and your families have sacrificed, but that sacrifice is worthwhile, especially for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Maj. Gen. Virgil Packett, the SFOR commander, said at the ceremony.

“Be assured that we will remain a strong, steady presence to help guide you through this time of transition,” Wright told the Bosnians gathered at the ceremony.

“As the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to take steps to enter the Partnership for Peace and the European Union, Multinational Brigade North will act as a partner in the success of this transition — still present to provide assistance, yet allowing the responsibility for civil security to shift to local authority where it now belongs,” he said.

The 38th Infantry Division may be the last rotation of American soldiers serving in the country. Its tour has been extended from the regular six months to nine.

The final status of SFOR and the possible takeover of the mission by a European force will be determined at a NATO conference in Istanbul, Turkey, in June.

Soldiers of the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard are training for the SFOR 16 rotation in case U.S. troops are needed beyond year’s end.

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