By U.S. Army 1st Lt. Andrew Hicks
Task Force Bayonet Public Affairs
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Early on the morning of Oct. 21, more than 250 soldiers from the 65th Engineer Battalion (CE), 130th Engineer Brigade and the 307th Engineer Battalion (C) (A), 20th Engineer Brigade gathered on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan to witness a ceremony between two historic and prestigious engineer commands.
The ceremony featured the casing of the 307th Engineer Battalion colors, and the uncasing of the 65th Engineer Battalion colors. This casing and uncasing of colors signified the transfer of authority of engineer operations in Regional Command South, South West and West to the 65th Engineer Battalion.
The 65th Engineer Battalion will form and lead Task Force Bayonet, a multifaceted fighting force consisting of over eight engineer and logistical companies and an Afghan National Army mentoring team. TF Bayonet will continue working under their parent unit, the 130th Engineer Brigade, whose headquarters recently took over the Theater Engineer Brigade as Joint Task Force Sapper, and will resume the ongoing mission in support of the International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan.
The primary focus of TF Bayonet will be partnership and development operations with ANA engineers and other ministries of the Afghan government. Engineer training teams will be embedded with their ANA counterparts to provide mentorship in engineer operations TF Bayonet will be directly responsible to ensure that the ANA are capable of operating as an independent fighting force. Concurrently, Bayonet route clearance packages will assure mobility for coalition forces and Afghan civilians using various improvised explosive device defeat platforms. Platoons under TF Bayonet will work to find and eliminate the threat of IEDs to ensure coalition forces are safe for the entire time they are operating in theater.
“The authority assumed today and throughout our upcoming deployment brings with it great responsibility,” said Maj. Jeffrey Nordin, 65th Engineer Battalion operations officer. “A responsibility that was once placed on three battalions will be placed solely on our shoulders. I am confident that we will be successful because of the unyielding strength that our soldiers have displayed over the last nine months.”
Nordin was speaking of the expansive reach TF Bayonet will have. The 65th Engineer Battalion arrives in theater as the ANA is stepping into the lead. Prior to their arrival from their home station of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, the engineer mission in southern, southwestern,and western Afghanistan was monitored and managed by three different battalion level commands. TF Bayonet will provide mission command for all engineer operations across that large area.
As addressed by the TF Bayonet commander, Lt. Col. David Acker, this task, like so many others carried out by this historic battalion, will be difficult. However, also like the veterans that served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and just four years ago in Iraq, we will prevail and exceed expectations.
Acker stated clearly, “You [TF Bayonet] are well-trained, well- equipped and well-lead…we have every confidence in your abilities to accomplish this tough mission."
The soldiers of TF Bayonet will add another great chapter to the long history of the most decorated engineer battalion in the U.S. Army.