Kansas Guardsmen pass torch at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti
Lt. Col. Thomas Burke (right) unrolls the 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery, flag during the Transfer of Authority ceremony conducted April 15, 2011 at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Matticks (left) assists.

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - More than 300 Soldiers gathered at the recreation center here April 15 to witness a transfer of authority ceremony led by Brig. Gen. William Glasgow, deputy commander, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

Lt. Col. Tom Burke, commander, 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery Battalion, accepted authority to continue supporting the CJTF-HOA mission from Lt. Col. Gregory Mittman, commander, 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment.

"The transition went smoothly," Burke said. "We have had a few events that have tested us, to include a heat index that is already in the upper 90s, but we're focused on taking care of each other. The battalion is excited and ready to perform its mission."

Burke leads approximately 500 Kansas National Guard Soldiers, who will serve in missions ranging from force protection and participating in various Maritime Civil Affairs Team missions designed to build partner nation capacity.

Mittman challenged the 1-161st FA to strive for continuous advancement in supporting the CJTF-HOA mission. "Improve on the positions we leave for you and uphold the high standard your battalion is known for," he said.

The transfer of authority represented the first time two units from Kansas have served sequentially in support of the same mission, said Glasgow.

"As Kansas Guardsmen, we're all excited to be part of the CJTF-HOA team and support this very unique mission," Burke said.

"We're also proud to continue on in the footprint left for us by our Kansas brothers and sisters. We're in the very special and rare position of taking over friends and fellow Kansas Soldiers," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16