Master Sgt. Kap Kim
10th Mountain Division Journalist
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghan-istan – The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) assumed command of Regional Command – East from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), from Fort Campbell, Ky., during a transfer of authority ceremony here Thursday.
Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-101, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alonzo Smith, senior enlisted adviser, cased the 101st Airborne Division colors, and Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-10, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney “Ray” Lewis, senior enlisted adviser, uncased the 10th Mountain Division colors, symbolizing the transfer of command responsibility of RC-East.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno presided over the ceremony.
“This transition of authority today represents, once again, the commitment of the United States to the success of the Afghan government, to the success of the Afghan National Security Forces, and to the success and better life of the Afghan people – we are truly dedicated to that, Odierno said.
McConville spoke to his Afghan teammates and thanked them for their support through the year.
“You know it’s truly been one team for the past 12 months,” he said of his Afghan general counterparts. “It’s been an honor and privilege for Regional Command – East to have served side by side with each one of you.”
For Townsend and CJTF-10, their mission this year will be nearly the same as their predecessors. He told attendees that later this year, the 10th Mountain Division would be postured to assist the Afghan National Security Forces and the government into the future through the NATO Security Assistance Mission: Resolute Support.
“Our Afghan brothers can count on the 10th Mountain Division to help them, as they become more confident and self-reliant, protecting the people and securing their country,” Townsend said. “We will help the Afghan (National) Security Forces in targeting insurgents and terrorists so they can’t launch attacks against Afghanistan or from Afghanistan.”
A little more than 12 years ago, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) sent Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Soon after, in December 2001, Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, 10th Mountain Division commander, took the division headquarters to Karshi-Khanabad Airbase in Uzbekistan and later to Bagram Airfield, to command CJTF-Mountain.
Both divisions are no strangers to the war on terrorism that sent their Soldiers to both Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Twelve years ago, in March, the 10th Mountain and 101st fought, side by side, brothers in battle, in Operation Anaconda,” Townsend said. “It is very fitting in 2013 and 2014, as we reach the conclusion of OEF, that the 101st and the 10th Mountain once again stand in the plains of Afghanistan, side by side, but this time, with another powerful brother in battle: the Afghan Security Forces.”
The 101st Airborne Division operated in eastern Afghanistan three times, and the 10th Mountain Division now has been in the east four times and once in the south. Yet, both divisions, with either their headquarters, or with their brigades and battalions, have served throughout Afghanistan and Iraq in each of the 13 years spent in Southwest Asia.
Bagram Airport, built in the 1950s and later used by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, is the eastern headquarters to one of the five regional commands, an area roughly the size of Virginia, which includes 14 provinces and 7.5 million Afghans and borders Pakistan to its east.
When the 101st Airborne Division assumed command of RC-East last March, there were nearly 60 bases.
Today, the Afghan National Security Forces have taken control of 40 of them with approximately 80,000 Afghan troops.