By 2nd Lt. Daniel Koszalka, 1st Squadron, Combined Task Force Dragoon October 20, 2013
FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZANGABAD, Afghanistan -- The Afghan National Army assumed authority of Combat Outpost Shoja from 1st Squadron, Combined Task Force Dragoon, Oct. 12, 2013, at Panjwai, Afghanistan.
The transfer marked another step towards the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan taking full control of its security from the International Security Assistance Force.
Over the past few months, ISAF Soldiers have worked to transfer the base to the ANA. To assist with security measures, engineers with 1st Squadron shortened the perimeter and reduced the overall area of the base, a process called de-scoping. The Troopers reconfigured and transferred COP Shoja. At the completion of the de-scoping process, the engineers of Task Force Black Diamond, 92nd Engineer Battalion, removed nearly half of the structures and built a new set of guard towers to protect the base.
Many ISAF Soldiers were tasked to support the deconstruction effort of the engineers. Troop A (Apache), CTF Dragoon, conducted a range of security including manning security checkpoints, screening and interdiction missions. Troop C (Cobra), 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, arrived during the process to provide additional security. Cobra, the tactical combat force then provided security during the final stages of the base reconfiguration to supplement Apache. The actions of both troops ensured the transfer of COP Shoja.
Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Gage, commander of 1st Squadron and Afghan National Army Maj. Hazrat Wali, executive officer for 6th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th Corps, both attended the ceremony. The ceremony began with the U.S. flag flying above the base and concluded with the raising of the Afghan flag, symbolizing the readiness of the ANA to, not only secure the base, but conduct independent operations to protect the townspeople from the violence and threats of terrorists and insurgents. This lets the surrounding area know the ANA has assumed responsibility for another portion of Panjwai. There have been over five such transfers of tactical infrastructure in Panjwai District in 2013.
During the ceremony, Gage expressed confidence in 6th Kandak's abilities and the transfer is another step toward ANA autonomy.
Wali stated he was appreciative of Gage's kind words and mentioned that the ANA would miss the camaraderie and partnership with ISAF Soldiers at COP Shoja. The ceremony ended with the signing of base transfer documents. Shortly afterward, the last ISAF Soldiers left the COP showing that once again Afghans are in the lead.