LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, of Fort Polk, La., assumed responsibility as advisers to Afghan National Security Forces in eastern Afghanistan from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, during a transfer of authority ceremony Thursday at Forward Operating Base Gamberi.
The “Patriot” Brigade soldiers took control and responsibilities from the “Long Knife” Brigade, who served as the first security force assistance brigade in Regional Command-East for the past nine months.
During the ceremony Col. William Benson, Long Knife commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Menton, the senior enlisted adviser, sheathed the brigade colors symbolizing the end of their tour. Col. Mario Diaz, Patriot commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Noe Salinas, unsheathed the brigade’s colors. By doing so, the Task Force “Patriot” soldiers assumed their role to advise, assist and enable the operations of their Afghan security force counterparts in northeastern Afghanistan.
“It’s a great day to be here because all of you have given so much and are committed to providing a future for the Afghan children,” said Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101.
McConville told the “Long Knife” troopers they should be proud of the role they played to spearhead the shift from a combat to a strictly advisory role.
“This is no small accomplishment. The lessons you learned and the tactics, techniques and procedures you developed and your relationship with our Afghan brothers has shaped how our (assistance brigades) train and operate today,” McConville said. “As advisers to the 201st Corps, the relationships you’ve established directly and dramatically supported the increase of the security the (Afghan security forces) continue to achieve.”
He said as a result of their hard work, the security forces are able to protect the Afghan people on their own. “The (Afghan security forces) secure major supply routes without assistance, execute independent operations, conduct indirect fire missions in support of their troops,” McConville said. “Col. Benson, Command Sgt. Maj. Menton, and troopers of the Task Force ‘Long Knife,’ I commend you on a job extremely well done.”
“Now it is time to focus on your next task, redeployment and reintegration,” McConville said. “I ask you that you take care of each other during this critical phase just like you took care of each other here. I ask you that you thank your loved ones for allowing you to do what you do and for their unwavering support.”
Benson reminded those in attendance of the journey of the “Long Knife” Brigade. It has deployed four times in the past seven years since its inception in 2006. In between deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the brigade moved from Fort Bliss to Fort Hood.
“I was surprised of the competence and capabilities of the (Afghan) 201st Corps,” Benson said. “After serving with the 201st Corps I am confident that the (Afghan army) cannot be defeated in any meaningful way.”
Benson said the enemies of Afghanistan have lost their way. He said when the Afghan army was tested, the 201st Corps soldiers supported by the police and border forces, have responded aggressively. In each case the enemy has been killed, captured or fled.
“They come to Afghanistan to fight coalition forces and intimidate the Afghan people, and instead they find an Afghan army increasingly united with the people,” Benson said. “They have become despondent. A despondent enemy is soon a defeated enemy.”