III Corps transferred authority for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, signifying the completion of a year-long deployment to the Middle East where the force is tasked with defeating the Islamic State group.
III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II on Thursday passed the task force’s colors to Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander of XVIII Airborne Corps, at the Coalition’s forward headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.
The commanding general for U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, presided over the ceremony.
“Lt. Gen. Funk’s team has made tremendous progress,” Votel said. “(From) increasing the capabilities of the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces), collapsing pockets of ISIS fighters throughout the region, (and) helping to clear Hawijah, Anbar and the Euphrates River Valley throughout the past year.”
Votel also commented on Funk’s leadership of the largest military coalition in history, comprised by about 70 nations.
“CJTF-OIR’s success is a testament to your leadership,” Votel said. “Working by, with and through brave Iraqi and Syrian partners, the Coalition has remained committed to pursuing the lasting defeat of ISIS.”
During III Corps’ year-plus tour, the task force and partner forces liberated more than two million Iraqis and Syrians, bringing the total liberated to nearly eight million, according to an Army news release. The task force also increased land liberated from ISIS control from 75 percent to 99 percent of what the terrorist group held at its peak in 2014-2016.
“There are two words to describe what has changed in the last four years since the formation of this Coalition: honor and hope,” Funk said. “Working by, with, and through our Iraqi partners, we watched the Iraqi Security Forces transform into a confident, professional organization and restore honor to their nation. In northeast Syria, hope has replaced fear and oppression.”