By Maj. Shane Sandretto and Sgt. Mark A. Moore IIFebruary 21, 2013
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan -- Key leaders from the 2nd Brigade, 203rd Corps, Afghan National Army; 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; and Task Force "Commandos," 2nd Security Forces Assistance Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Forward Operating Base, Sharana, attended a transfer of authority ceremony Feb. 13 at Forward Operating Base Thunder, Afghanistan.
Col. Joseph D. Wawro and Command Sgt. Maj. Wylie G. Hutchison, command and senior enlisted adviser for 4th BCT, 1st Infantry Division, cased the unit's colors, symbolizing the transfer of security responsibility with the 2-203rd, ANA Brigade. Members of the 2-203rd ANA are now in the lead for security operations in Paktika Province.
Col. Dennis S. Sullivan and Command Sgt. Maj. Hector J. Font, commander and senior enlisted adviser of TF "Commandos," 2nd SFAB, 10th Mountain Division, uncased the brigade's colors, marking the start of their mission to advise and assist their Afghan partners in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
* * *
The 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment "Wolverines" and the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment "Golden Dragons" were the first two units in the 2nd Security Forces Assistance Brigade to assume responsibility for their mission.
Soldiers of 1-89 Cavalry and 2-14 Infantry assumed their missions in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 3 and 4.
A transfer of authority ceremony was held Feb. 3 at FOB Sharana for 1-89 Cavalry. Joined by the command team of the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, the outgoing U.S. unit, the ceremony was simple and to the point.
The outgoing commander and command sergeant major, Lt. Col. Matthew Cody and Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew McDowell, cased their unit colors in preparation for movement from FOB Sharana to their home station of Fort Riley, Kan.
Then the incoming commander and command sergeant major, Lt. Col. Robert Griggs and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Jusino, uncased their colors, signifying their responsibility as the new battlespace integrator for 12 districts within Paktika Province.
"Transition, I feel, will be the Wolverines' greatest challenge," Cody said. "Not only are they transitioning, they have to remove a large footprint in a short amount of time."
"It will come down to establishing the Noncommissioned Officer Corps so that when we leave, our partners will essentially be able to train the trainer and continue to improve and sustain everything we've taught them," Griggs said.
A nearly identical ceremony was held Feb. 4 at FOB Orgun-E for the command teams of 2-14 Infantry and 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, also from Fort Riley.
"It is our job to help the Afghan National Security Forces to set the conditions for long-term security in Paktika," said Lt. Col. Robert Fouche, 2-14 Infantry commander. "I have no doubt that Afghanistan will become peaceful and prosperous over time."
Meanwhile, three task forces assigned to 2nd Security Forces Assistance Brigade held transfer of authority ceremonies Feb. 10, 11 and12 at Forward Operating Base Sharana and FOB Rushmore.
Task Force "Allons," 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, and Task Force "Providers," 210th Brigade Support Battalion, uncased their unit colors, Feb. 10 and 11 at FOB Sharana's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center. Task Force "Gladiators," 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion uncased their colors Feb. 12 at FOB Rushmore.
The transfers of authority marked the beginning of each unit's role in support of 2nd SFAB's mission to advise and assist their Afghan counterparts in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
TF "Allons" assumed authority Feb. 10 from the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment "Proud Americans," 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
Lt. Col. Christopher Wendland, of TF "Allons" commander, was pleased with the transfer and praised the Proud Americans after the ceremony.
"The transfer of authority between TF 'Allons' and 2-32nd FA was extremely smooth," Wendland said. "The Proud Americans did a great job transferring everything over to us."
TF "Providers" assumed authority Feb. 11 from 701st Brigade Support Battalion, 4th BCT, 1st Infantry Division.
Lt. Col. James Cotter, "Providers" commander, acknowledged that their mission over the next nine months would be challenging.
"We have a very challenging mission over the next nine months, but the Soldiers are well-trained and extremely motivated to accomplish it," Cotter said. "I know with the leaders we have, and the talented Soldiers working towards the same goal, we will be successful."
Task Force "Gladiators" assumed authority Feb. 13 from 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th BCT, 1st Infantry Division.
The governor of Paktika Province closed the "Gladiators" ceremony with words of continued continuity and a strong sense of hope for the Afghan people.
"The Afghan forces are ready to protect their country, their families and their society, there is no doubt in that," said Muhebulla Samim, governor of Paktika Province. "This is a direct result of our combined support."
"We will continue to work together with the new Task Forces in Paktika and Ghazni provinces. If you have any problems, I will work with you to sort them out," Samim concluded.