U.S. National Command Element (South) change of command held at Kandahar Airfield
September 26, 2007
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The Regional Command-South U.S. National Command Element held a change of command ceremony between outgoing commander Army Col. Richard L. Stevens and incoming commander Army Col. Pat Crowder Sept. 24.
Stevens has been the RC-South U.S. NCE Task Force Anzio commander since May 26, the silver anniversary of his military service.
"I can think of nothing more fitting for me, personally, to remember that event a quarter century ago than by the absolute distinction and rare opportunity of commanding a unit directly engaged in winning the War on Terror," said Stevens, upon taking command in the spring.
In his farewell, Stevens remarked on the honor that it has been to serve with the NCE at Kandahar.
"In these short four months at Kandahar, I came to know a team of dedicated Americans, steadfast Coalition partners and loyal Afghan friends that have enriched my life beyond description," said Stevens. "I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to be part of Task Force Anzio."
The NCE that Stevens passed on to Crowder is a "melting pot" of troops including Army, Navy and Air Force servicemembers. These servicemembers, as well as Stevens, were sent to KAF from multiple locations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. At KAF, they served as a bridging force between the previous Task Force Grizzly and the rotation that will be commanded by Crowder.
The connection with Anzio is personal for Stevens who is returning to his command of the 36th Engineer Brigade in Regional Command-East. TF Anzio's name is taken from the World War II allied battle at Anzio, Italy, which included U.S. troops of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 36th Engineer Brigade. The NCE motto of "Stand and Fight" was adopted from the battle cry that motivated Soldiers who faced a daunting task in the historic Anzio battle.
"Stand and Fight" has served the diverse NCE in its role supporting the multi-national effort and Afghan people. As the bridging force, one of the primary missions of the NCE has been to work closely with the multi-national partners at KAF to complete the year-long transition of the installation from U.S. to NATO control. While doing this, they have also been able to continue the fight to help the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Afghan people.
"We are committed to 'stand and fight' beside our Coalition partners, but more importantly, beside the strong, brave and independent people of Afghanistan that are standing and fighting against the enemies of security and progress," said Stevens when he took command.
Crowder's incoming remarks also expressed his intention to continue TF Anzio's support of their multi-national partners and the mission in Afghanistan.
"The NCE is making a difference in Afghanistan wit our Coalition partners," said Crowder.
In closing, Crowder referenced the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he spoke on making a difference to the future of innocent Afghans who wish to be free of the extremist enemies of peace and stability.
"When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind," quoted Crowder. "When evil men shout words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must bring a real order of justice."