FORT HOOD — The work of III Corps made it impossible for terrorists to ever again attack the United States from Afghanistan, said Lt. Gen. Mark Milley during a colors uncasing ceremony Wednesday morning.
Standing before hundreds of Central Texas residents and soldiers outside III Corps Headquarters, Milley, the commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, proclaimed the unit officially home from a 10-month deployment to the war-torn country.
About 600 corps soldiers served as the headquarters unit for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul. As the second in command, Milley oversaw NATO operations across the country. On Saturday, he transferred that authority to the 18th Airborne Corps.
“I want you all to know that all the sacrifices and service ... have not been in vain. Phantom Warriors’ hard work and dedication helped lay the foundation for stability and democracy in Afghanistan,” Milley said. “Over the last 10 months, Fort Hood soldiers have helped to make sure that terrorists will never again find sanctuary ... in Afghanistan.”
During that time, more than 150 coalition service members died downrange, including Fort Hood’s own 1st Lt. Jason Togi, who was killed by a roadside bomb while deployed with 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Another 1,230 service members were wounded in action.
“I ask all of you here today, amidst the happiness of reunions, keep those that we lost in your thoughts and in your prayers. Also keep in your prayers, those still deployed,” Milley said.
About 6,000 Fort Hood soldiers are deployed around the world, including the corps deputy commander, Maj. Gen. James Richardson, who took on additional duties in Afghanistan.
Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said it was good to welcome the Phantom Corps home.
“We pray for them when they’re gone; we mourn when they have losses,” he said. “They are an integral part of the community, and I’m happy to have them home.”
Now back at Fort Hood, Milley said he plans to meet with Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, the 1st Cavalry Division’s commander who stood in as post commander in Milley’s absence.
“Our No. 1 priority is and always has been readiness,” Milley said after thanking Ierardi for keeping the Fort Hood team strong. Milley also will look at the Army reorganization that took place while he was gone. When III Corps left, it oversaw one division — the 1st Cavalry. Now it has taken on three more — the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss; and the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.