By Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commanding general, CJTF 101 and 101st Airborne DivisionOctober 17, 2013
Friends of the 101st,
With another exciting and challenging month past, your Screaming Eagles continue to fight and win here in Afghanistan; honoring the legacy of all who have gone before, accomplishing their mission to advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces to defeat the enemies of Afghanistan as they secure their country and a better future for their children. The Summer Fighting Season is near completion and the Screaming Eagle Soldiers continue to accomplish a great deal through their efforts.
In the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) and Combined Joint Task Force -- 101, winning matters. It matters because it is what is required to secure a peaceful and prosperous future for the children of Afghanistan. It matters because it is what ensures acts such as those committed against the International Community on September 11, 2001 will never happen again. It matters because it is what is right and just for Afghanistan.
Winning is supporting the Afghan National Security Forces so they can secure their country; winning is ensuring that transnational terrorists are not operationally effective in this region; winning is setting conditions for credible elections in 2014; winning is supporting constructive relationships between Afghanistan and its neighbors; and winning is re-posturing our force and the Afghan National Security Forces for an enduring future, respectful of the partnership and friendship we have developed over these last 12 years.
Every Screaming Eagle, past and present, who has served in Afghanistan can be proud of the part they played. As a result of their hard work and dedication the Afghan National Security Forces, the ANSF are becoming stronger, more powerful, and more professional every day; they are defeating the enemies of their country, and they are securing their nation. With the advice and assistance of great American service men and women, the Afghan National Security Forces are writing their own history.
As summer has turned to fall, we are now looking toward transitioning our efforts in support of the Afghan National Security Forces in the winter sustaining season. Sustaining the gains they made during this most recent fighting season, we remain committed and resolute; working alongside the Afghan National Security Forces, assisting in improving the systems that will allow them to sustain their security forces and maintain a sufficient level of security for continued economic growth, secure and credible elections, and to serve as a stabilizing force for a more secure Afghanistan and ultimately a safer world for us all.
We do all this while also conducting the critical mission of drawing down our troops, equipment and bases here in Afghanistan. When we first assumed responsibility here in Regional Command -- East, on March 14th, there were 58 bases throughout the region. Now, there are eleven bases and six facilities we call "assistance platforms" which allow for a smooth transition to Afghan control.
Although our numbers and our presence are reduced, our commitment to our Afghan partners endures; and, enduring in their own efforts, the 4th Brigade, "Currahees", continue to maintain pressure on the Enemies of Afghanistan through a multi-pillared train, advise and assist approach while their Afghan National Security Force partners maintain the lead in offensive operations. A recent measure of success for the Afghan National Security Forces was the first-ever Afghan-led Artillery 'Walk and Shoot' held at Camp Parsa-Clark. Advised and assisted by members of 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Brigade, 203rd Afghan National Army Corps highlighted their ability to employ direct and indirect fire and maneuver with their own organic D30 122mm Howitzers, dismounted infantry with mortars, and BM-12 107mm rocket launchers.
Screaming Eagles of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, "White Currahee", supported their partners in the Afghan National Security Forces in establishing a new program titled "Hero of Khowst", a competition modeled on the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. The inaugural "Hero of Khowst" competition welcomed its first four members in early October. Also, and as a further measure of the Afghan National Security Forces maintaining the lead, the Currahees successfully transferred several combat outposts to Afghan National Army units, while simultaneously relocating the Currahee Brigade Headquarters from FOB Salerno, in Khost Province, to FOB Lightning in Paktiya Province.
The 101st Sustainment Brigade "Lifeliners" are also charging into the winter months, prepared to ensure uninterrupted sustainment operations continue through the inclement weather season. Their part in this summer fighting season and the realignment and retrograde of our forces in Combined Joint Task Force -- 101 has been crucial to our success. Keeping the traditions of the Screaming Eagle Division, the "Lifeliners" supported thousands of hours of combat patrols, ensuring the safe and secure transport of critical equipment as it is returned home to sustain our Army for the future.
As always, the "Lifeliners" take pride in being the "muscle movement" behind the retrograde and redeployment mission. This past month proved exceptionally rewarding as "Lifeliner" Convoy Escort Teams maintained the offensive by supporting the largest base closure and transfer to occur in Regional Command -- East to date, with the complete transfer of FOB Sharana in Paktika Province to Afghan control. Over these next several months, as we continue to draw down the force and realign to support our enduring and resolute mission here in Afghanistan, you can remain confident that the Soldiers of the 101st Sustainment Brigade will remain a critical part of the mission, serving as the "Lifeline" which we all rely upon to sustain the fight and support our efforts to ensure the Afghans remain firmly in the lead.
I would also like to highlight that with winter comes the Holiday season. This means mail services will be at its yearly peak. The Lifeliners' postal personnel throughout Afghanistan are ready for this year's big holiday push.
In closing, and with heavy heart, I ask that we honor our fallen Screaming Eagle this month. Staff Sergeant. Thomas Allen Baysore Jr., 31, of Milton, Pennsylvania, was killed by direct fire on Sept. 26th. Staff Sergeant Baysore served as a squad leader with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
I thank you all for your continued support and dedication to our Screaming Eagle family and community. It is your untiring support that allows us to focus on accomplishing our critical mission here.