The Phantom Battalion marked its return from Afghanistan on Thursday with an uncasing ceremony in III Corps Headquarters.

Nearly 600 soldiers deployed with III Corps Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion last April, and many have returned to Fort Hood earlier than expected.

While the III Corps and Fort Hood command team, including commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, remains in Kabul overseeing the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, other elements began redeployment in November.

“We do the day-to-day operations to allow the staff to perform their functions,” said Col. James Baker, battalion commander, of his unit’s relationship with the corps’ command team. “We are looking forward to the rest of the team coming home. In two to three weeks, everybody should be back.”

During its eight months in Afghanistan, the battalion issued 2,000 awards, managed $70 million of equipment and partnered with nine nations, he said.

This included conducting inventory and signing vehicles to NATO allies, such as Jordan, and housing and feeding Americans and allies.

“For the amount of people we had, we were able to accomplish a lot,” said Capt. Sambriddhi Winkler, Headquarters Support Company commander. “We worked with a lot of different groups. It was a joint deployment so it was something new we all got to experience.”

Soldiers were spread across six forward operating bases around Kabul, as well as in Bagram, Kuwait and Qatar.

“The soldiers never skipped a beat, and they did a great job,” Winkler said.

Because of this hard work and discipline, the unit is now in the running for a Meritorious Unit Award.

“The discipline inherent in the training came through in bright colors when we got there,” Baker said.

Next, the battalion will reset, then prepare for the potential to return to Afghanistan in about 11 months.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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