KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Alaska-based paratroopers formally took responsibility of security and training operations in the province in a transfer of authority ceremony here Dec. 27.
The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Blue Geronimo, assumed responsibility assumed responsibility from the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Blue Spaders, at Forward Operating Base Salerno in eastern Afghanistan.
Blue Geronimo joins the rest of Task Force Spartan in assuming responsibility of Khowst and Paktya provinces in Regional Command-East’s area of responsibility.
”Today is a great day for us,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col Jessie Pearson, 1st Bn., 26th Inf. Regt., commander. “The thing I’m most proud of is the amount of development we’ve seen in the Afghan National Security Forces and the [government of Afghanistan], so it’s extremely satisfying to know in the last twelve months we’ve seen dramatic gains in our Afghan partners’ capacity and capability to perform their mission.”
Pearson feels confident in handing over the area of responsibility to the Blue Geronimos.
“Our Afghan partners are significantly better than when we first got here. I’m extremely proud about that,” Pearson said.
U.S. Army Lt. Col Patrick J. Ellis, 1st Bn. (Airborne), 501st. Inf. Regt., commander, acknowledged a successful transition from TF Blue Spader.
“Those guys really care about the mission a lot, and it showed with the care and effort they put into the transition today,” said Ellis, a native of Alameda, Calif. “We’ve already assumed command of most of the battlespace, and today is kind of the formal conclusion of that at the battalion level.”
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kirk E. Johnson, of the 1st Bn. (Airborne), 501st Inf. Regt., Task Force Spartan, and native of Oconomawac, Wis., said his organization is ready to do their part against not just the insurgency, but helping to build the capacity of the Afghanistan National Army.
“I think today’s [transfer of authority] represents a great opportunity for our organization to do our part,” Johnson said. “We’re going to get out there and go after [it]."