News: TF Lethal assumes authority of Paktya from TF Avalanche
Story by: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Nicholas Rasmussen
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As Task Force Avalanche cased its colors, a new set of colors from Iowa were revealed at Forward Operating Base Gardez Nov. 22.
This event marked not only the passing of battlefield control from Avalanche to its successor, Task Force Lethal, but also a beginning to a new chapter for Paktya province.
Task Force Lethal, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, is part of 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division (Task Force Red Bulls) of the Iowa National Guard, but falls under the command of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Task Force Rakkasan), 101st Airborne Division, while deployed.
TF Lethal assumed responsibility as the battle space owner for all of Patyka province. Its mission is to assist their Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Afghan National Security Forces partners to create an environment that sets the conditions for progress across all lines of operation: security, governance and development.
Deputy Governor Mangal, Deputy Provincial Police Chief Gen. Dastageer, Paktya National Defense Security Chief Gen. Safi and Chief of Police Brig. Gen. Safi, all from Paktya province, attended the ceremony.
Mangal’s speech addressed his enthusiasm about working with TF Lethal to continue the headway made by TF Avalanche that provided stability and safety to Paktya and its people.
“TF Avalanche set the bar high by working effectively with the Afghan National Security Forces, [Afghan citizens] and public officials throughout Avalanche’s deployment,” said TF Rakkasan commander U.S. Army Col. Viet Luong of Fort Campbell, Ky., commander of Avalanche’s operational headquarters.
The Avalanche team dedicated significant time and effort toward successfully winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people; a theme TF Lethal plans to perpetuate throughout its campaign in Paktya province, Luong said.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Charlesworth of Jericho, Vt., TF Avalanche commander, said, after careful and scrutinous observation of TF Lethal, he had the utmost confidence in handing over control of the province. He said he knows the effort and work he and his team accomplished would not be wasted.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Stephen Boesen II of Ankeny, Iowa, TF Lethal commander, said the task force plans to continue the course of action that TF Avalanche sustained with the ambition to attain a greater synergy between coalition forces, ANSF, local nationals and public officials in Paktya.
Boesen said a major goal of TF Lethal is to work closely with the Afghan National Army, Afghan United Police, Afghan Border Police and all other ANSF forces to facilitate the safety, development and autonomy of the ANSF and local populace in Paktya.
After the remarks were complete, hands were shaken and embraces were made, TF Avalanche made its way from the transfer-of-authority ceremony to the flight line and TF Lethal officially assumed command of Paktya province, picking up where its predecessors left off.