By Staff Sgt. Ben K. Navratil, Task Force Duke Public AffairsJanuary 3, 2012
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 3, 2012) -- The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, officially relinquished command of coalition forces in Khowst and Paktya provinces in a ceremony Dec. 31.
TF Duke, which is based out of Fort Knox, Ky., cased their colors as they transferred authority to the 4th Brigade Combat Teams (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, TF Spartan, based out of Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Dignitaries and senior Afghan National Security Force leadership, as well as senior leaders from Combined Joint Task Force-1 attended the ceremony held on Forward Operating Base Salerno.
"Today, the Task Force Duke Soldiers around you represent dedication, partnership and mission success," said Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commander of the Fort Hood, Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division and CJTF-1. "Task Force Spartan will sustain the momentum of Task Force Duke's extraordinary teamwork" as they take on the mantle of responsibility in this critical area of Afghanistan.
By the numbers, TF Duke achieved monumental success in their region of eastern Afghanistan.
Over the course of their deployment, Duke Soldiers conducted more than 14,600 combined patrols with their Afghan partners while executing nearly 700 operations. During these operations they logged over 275 confirmed enemy kills and captured almost 1,800 insurgents, with more than 300 of these being insurgent leaders.
According to local Afghan officials, the marked increase in security in Khowst and Paktya has given way to better governance and development in the region, key pieces to Afghanistan's future after the departure of coalition forces.
Col. Chris Toner, commander of TF Duke, thanked his Afghan partners for their support over the last year.
"We've all served together for the safety and security of our families in Afghanistan and the United States," said Toner.
He went on to reflect upon the Soldiers who gave their lives during the deployment.
"Sadly, this effort was not without loss, as 27 Task Force Duke Soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice," he said, adding that 92 Afghan National Security Forces members also gave their lives to the effort. "Their sacrifice has made all of us all even more committed to finishing this fight on our terms and ensuring their sacrifice was not in vain."
Toner also gave credit the families at Fort Knox and elsewhere for the support they gave to their deployed Soldiers.
"Lastly, but foremost in our minds, is a heartfelt thanks to our families and loved ones who have borne the true burden of this deployment," he said. "To be sure, their burden was the toughest and ours was the easiest. Without their love, support and tremendous courage, we could not have accomplished our mission."