Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, right, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, speaks to Soldiers in 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, at Combat Outpost Ghundy Ghar, Afghanistan, during a three-day battlefield circulation.

ZHARAY DISTRICT, KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers in 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Spartan, welcomed their new division commander for a three-day visit to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, where they have been deployed for nearly 11 months.

Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, assumed command from Maj. Gen. James L. Terry on Nov. 4. Since then, he has made it a point to personally introduce himself to his Soldiers deployed throughout the world.

Milley first spent some time with 10th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers in Regional Command East. The command oversees operations in 14 provinces along the country's eastern border. From there, he moved to Regional Command South to Kandahar Province -- the heart of the Taliban -- to meet the Soldiers in Task Force Spartan.

During his visit, Milley awarded nearly 100 Soldiers their combat badges, including the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge and Combat Medical Badge. Soldiers also were awarded Army Commendation Medals for Valor and Purple Hearts. The general also made it a point to present many of the Soldiers with division coins.

Among the Soldiers awarded their valorous awards were Soldiers in C Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, stationed at Strong Point Rustum Aka near the village of Nalgham.

"I think Maj. Gen. Milley came to see us because this (brigade) made a historical impact during this deployment, in an area that is historically significant to the Taliban," said Capt. Widmar Roman, commander of C Company, 1-32 Infantry. "Combat Company was at the tip of the (brigade's) spear during a good portion of the deployment.

"Maj. Gen. Milley's visit was a great opportunity for him to see ground zero where the biggest change occurred and the Soldiers who spearheaded the drastic change in Nalgham."

Soldiers in 1-32 Infantry have had a hard fight against insurgents in the heart of the Taliban, and they appreciated seeing their commanding general take the time to see them and recognize their accomplishments.

"The Soldiers of Combat Company were very appreciative that the division commander would go so far out of his way to talk to them and thank them for all of the great things they've done here," Roman said.

While at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Milley first visited with Soldiers in 710th Brigade Support Battalion and 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. Among his first stops was the Unmanned Aerial System section. The UAS operators of B Company, 3rd BSTB, have worked hard to monitor the battlefield with their aircraft and have been a tremendous contributing factor to the success of Spartan Soldiers on the battlefield.

The second day at FOB Pasab, Milley met with TF Spartan's welders, who have contributed to the Afghan mission by fabricating everything from flag poles to swing sets to prosthetic limbs for Afghan civilians. They even built a 60-foot bridge over the Arghandab River to provide local children a safe passage to school.

At the welder's shop, Milley presented Soldiers with coins.

"My Soldiers and I felt very privileged to have the (commanding general) visit," said Warrant Officer Brian Terry, allied trades technician in B Company, 710th BSB. "It's always nice to have some face time with the big boss."

After meeting with the welders and other Spartan Soldiers on FOB Pasab, the general began his tour of the other bases and combat outposts in the Spartan area of operations.

They first visited several pieces of "tactical infrastructure" belonging to the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, in western Maiwand District. Soldiers in 3-71 Cavalry have been co-located with the rest of the Spartan Brigade only since they assumed command of FOB Sarkari Karez on Dec. 23.

Before assuming command of the area, Titan Soldiers were operating from FOB Terra Nova in the Arghandab River Valley. Now, they are pushing their way out to villages where U.S. presence previously had been minimal.

After leaving the Titan AO, Milley visited Soldiers in 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment. He toured a few of their bases and presented Soldiers with combat awards. He continued his journey with a visit to Soldiers in 1-32 Infantry and ended it with a visit to Soldiers in 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment on COP Ghundy Ghar.

After visiting many of the outlying FOBs, COPs and strong points, the general returned to Pasab to spend a few more hours with Soldiers from the various battalions before saying goodbye to Spartan Soldiers.

While Milley was speaking with Soldiers of the Spartan Brigade, he encouraged them to stay motivated and stay focused on the fight against the insurgency during the last remaining weeks of the brigade's deployment.

"Each one of you has to keep your head in the game all the way to the very end," Milley said. "We'll see you back at (Fort) Drum; your Families will be there, but for right now, you keep your head in the game."

Page last updated Thu February 16th, 2012 at 00:00