101st Airborne Division cases colors before Afghanistan deployment
January 29, 2013
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Jan. 29, 2013) -- The 101st Airborne Division cased its colors during a ceremony here, Jan. 25, as approximately 600 Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion get set to begin their latest rendezvous with destiny.
The casing of the colors is an Army tradition that symbolizes the moving of the division to a new theater of operation. During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commanding general of the 101st, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alonzo J. Smith, division command sergeant major, furled the division standard, emplacing a protective canvas sheath to signify the unit's transition to Bagram Airfield, where the Soldiers will once again lead NATO's International Security Assistance Force Regional-Command East.
"Our mission is clear; to advise and assist the Afghan Security Forces so they can secure their country," McConville said. "Although the path we travel will not be easy or without risk, I am confident in the way ahead because I have the honor of serving with the world's finest Soldiers, the 'Screaming Eagles' who are highly trained, disciplined and fit, and ready for this mission."
The colors, with battle streamers attached, accompany military units during ceremonies to signify its history in past campaigns, and the presence of the commander and his headquarters. When an entire unit, or just the headquarters element of a unit, undergoes a permanent change of station, the colors are "cased," to signify that the command has ceased operations at that location.
During his remarks, McConville also spoke about the division's storied history through the skies of France, the jungles of Vietnam and the extremes faced by troops in more recent times in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I am confident in the way ahead because we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, who have left us a proud legacy which we strive to live up to daily," he said.
This deployment, which is scheduled to last 12 months, marks the third time since 2008 that the division headquarters has commanded RC-East.
Many Soldiers within the division headquarters were with the unit then and will look to build upon those prior relationships with partners from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Afghan National Security Forces.
McConville stated that the upcoming deployment will not be easy, or without its challenges.
"We are the 101st Airborne Division," McConville said. "This is what we do. This is who we are."
In the coming weeks, Soldiers from HHB, "Gladiators," will join the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade and elements of the 101st Sustainment Brigade, who are all currently deployed to Afghanistan.
The colors will be uncased during a transfer of authority ceremony with the outgoing unit, the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kan., and will signify that the command is operational at its new station. The transfer of authority ceremony is expected to take place in mid-March.