Col. Sam Whitehurst, right, 3rd Brigade Combat Team commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Sean T. Watson, left, 3rd BCT senior enlisted adviser, salute during the transfer of authority ceremony held Friday on Forward Operating Base Lightning, effectively relieving Soldiers of 4th Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, of their responsibility for the Regional Command East area of Afghanistan.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE, Afghanistan - The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), has officially assumed responsibility of the Regional Command East area of operations, effectively relieving the 4th Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, during a transfer of authority ceremony held Friday on Forward Operating Base Lightning, Afghanistan.

The ceremony marks the official beginning of what will be an extremely challenging tour of duty for the Spartan Brigade, in which Soldiers will conduct operations alongside their Afghan National Security Forces partners as they continue to take the lead in the defense of their country.

Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commander of Joint Task Force 101 in eastern Afghanistan, expressed his confidence in the brigade's ability to meet the challenges ahead in his remarks during the ceremony.

"We are fortunate today to welcome Col. Sam Whitehurst and Command Sgt. Maj. (Sean) Watson of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team Spartans," McConville said. "They are no strangers to Afghanistan and are a proud outfit with a proud history.

"I know that they will not waver in their enduring and resolute support of the Afghan people as they advise and assist them in securing their country," he added.

Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, working in conjunction with the Afghan forces, are assuming responsibility for an area approximately 46,000 square miles in size with a considerably smaller number of individuals than their previous deployments to the same area.

Their mission also will present additional obstacles as it will be their first as a security force advise and assist brigade, where the emphasis will be on the continuing mentorship of their host nation's security forces.

It is a mission that the Spartan Brigade is assuming with a determined and cooperative spirit, which Whitehurst expressed as he thanked the 203rd Afghan National Army Corps for hosting the transfer of authority ceremony.

"We appreciate the hospitality, but more importantly, we appreciate your friendship," Whitehurst said. "My Soldiers and leaders are both honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve alongside you and your other Afghan security forces."

Page last updated Fri November 29th, 2013 at 00:00