News: Task Force Raptor assumes CJTF-HOA security role
Story by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – For the past few weeks, Texas Army National Guardsmen have heard “welcome aboard,” an unfamiliar phrase in a long list of U.S. Navy terminology the soldiers will have to learn as the they took the reins here, Feb. 16.
On that day, at a transfer of authority ceremony, Task Force Raptor, U.S. Army 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, took over the security forces role here from the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard.
The ceremony, held at the camp’s turf field, involved the casing of the 1-161st Field Artillery's colors, signifying the completion of the unit’s deployment. The battalion’s Command Sgt. Maj. Ricky Matticks commented on the end of a successful mission.
“My soldiers exceeded expectations—not only in our security force role, but in the military-to-military missions we were able to be part of,” Matticks said. “I’m very proud of what they accomplished.”
Matticks also encouraged the Texas soldiers to take advantage of the unique opportunities the Kansas Guardsmen enjoyed, such as sharing best practices with host nation militaries in the East Africa region.
“This is a great opportunity for our men and women to not only mentor and learn from our counterparts, but to learn about the culture as well,” Matticks said. “They need to get out and really get to know the people they are working with. This is the best advice I can give the task force.”
The soldiers from Task Force Raptor then uncased their own colors as they officially assumed duties and expressed excitement about the missions ahead.
“The fact that we get to do partnership training, I think, is going to be very educational,” said U.S. Army Maj. Timothy Amerson, Task Force Raptor (3-124th Cavalry) operations officer. “That we can possibly have an impact on foreign military relations and make a difference in a country is always a positive thing.”
The transfer of authority ceremony ended with a prayer by U.S. Army Capt. Brett Anderson, Task Force Raptor (3-124th Cavalry) chaplain, encouraging the men and women to take charge of their new responsibilities. He believes the Texas soldiers have a special advantage as they work with the East African people.
“Having traveled with the military to several different places around the world, the one thing that other nations know about the United States is Texas,” Anderson said. “I encourage the soldiers to use that as an in-road to accomplish their missions. This is their chance to represent not only our nation, but our great state as well.”
Immediately following the ceremony the soldiers took heed and raised the Texas state flag at the unit’s main building, clearly showing that Texas is, as the Navy says, “on deck.”