News: Mission complete! Task Force Duke officially hands over command of Khowst, Paktya provinces
Story by Staff Sgt. Ben Navratil
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – 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.
The Fort Knox, Ky. – based TF Duke cased their colors as they transferred authority to the 4th BCT (Airborne), 25th Inf. Div., 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 TF Duke soldiers around you represent dedication, partnership and mission success,” said U.S Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, native of Berwick, Maine and commander of the Fort Hood, Texas, - based 1st Cavalry Division and CJTF-1. “TF Spartan will sustain the momentum of TF 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.
U.S. Army Col. Chris Toner, Topeka, Kan., native and 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 TF Duke soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said, adding that 92 ANSF 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,” said Toner.
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, visibly moved. “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.”
This work, Mission complete! Task Force Duke officially hands over command of Khowst, Paktya provinces, by SSG Ben Navratil, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.