Soldiers from the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade uncase the unit’s colors to mark the unit’s official return from Afghanistan and held a change of command ceremony at the First Army Division West parade field on Thursday.

FORT HOOD — More than 820 soldiers are back home after a nine-month deployment to the Middle East.

The 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade uncased its colors to mark the unit’s official return from Afghanistan and held a change of command ceremony at the First Army Division West parade field on Thursday.

The brigade was established in July 2019 to train, advise, and assist allied security forces, and just completed its first deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Charles Masaracchia was the unit’s first commander and helped establish the brigade, commanded the brigade during the deployment, and relinquished command of the brigade to Col. Michael J. Trotter during the ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, the current deputy commander for operations for III Corps and Fort Hood, said the ceremony was an important milestone for two outstanding officers, but also an opportunity to recognize the great accomplishments of the advisors and their families of the brigade.

“The senior leader of the Army knew that (Masaracchia) was fit for the job. In just 15 months, Mas and his team stood up the organization, trained and certified the team, and kicked some incredible tail at JRTC (Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk),” Efflandt said. “On schedule, they deployed to ... Afghanistan, and this is no small feat, and one that few leaders have ever had a hand in orchestrating.”

Efflandt said Masaracchia’s tenacity was unmatched and his leadership was of the highest caliber, observable in the soldiers on the field during the ceremony.

“The 3rd SFAB’s deployment directly supported peace and stability operations and allowed these skilled advisors to shape and enable partner security forces,” Efflandt said.

Masaracchia thanked the soldiers in the brigade and said he had never been as proud of an organization for its accomplishments as he has of the brigade.

“We accomplished what most said was going to fail,” Masaracchia said. “We stand here today as a testament to the organization’s success that we validated, and those who believed in us and proved those who did not, were wrong. It has truly been my honor to command this incredible team of professionals.”

The brigade is the third of six Security Force Assistance Brigades — a series of programs Gen. Mark Milley, a former III Corps and Fort Hood commander, started in 2016. Though the concept is relatively new, officials have credited the new brigades as offering better advisers to partner nations and allowing traditional brigade combat teams to concentrate on readiness.

Masaracchia’s next assignment will be as the director, Mission Command Center of Excellence, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

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