LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Task Force Warhorse and the Laghman Province Afghan National Security Forces held a transition ceremony at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, June 12.
The event was one of many that has happened or is happening throughout Afghanistan symbolizing the shift in responsibility from a U.S. led coalition force to a strictly Afghan-led force.
Even though the U.S. troops will no longer be in the lead and will now only serve as support and advisors, the brigade commander for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, made a clear statement about this transition as he took the podium first.
“For those that think this a retreat ... it is not,” said Col. James J. Mingus, TF Mountain Warrior commander. “It is a celebration of 10 years of working together and that coalition forces are no longer needed in Laghman. Therefore, we’re further reducing our footprint and passing security responsibilities to our Afghan partners.”
Mingus continued by thanking the TF Warhorse commander and Soldiers for the job well done and welcomed TF Gryphon who will now be, “invisible partners,” to the ANSF.
“As we reflect over the past decade, you all more than anyone can appreciate the significant progress that you have achieved,” said Lt. Col. John K. Woodward, the 1st, Squadron, 13th Cavalry and outgoing commander. “We cannot forget the sacrifices that all our formations have endured over the years and this day marks as a form of celebration of those sacrifices that culminates with a professional Afghan Security Force.”
“Today does not mark an end point, but a transition point for the ANSF’s continued development and professionalization,” continued Woodward. “And as Laghman transitions, Afghans need an example of success and this province will be the example of true successful transition for the entire country.”
Gov. Mohammad I. Azizi spoke through an interpreter who translated his speech from Pashto to English.
“Ten years ago we were in a situation where we couldn’t believe that one day we would have our own army equipped with the uniform and all military equipments,” said Azizi. “Today our females go to school and a lot of Insurgents’ groups have joined with the peace process and live in peace.
“In the past ten years our security forces have been professionally trained and equipped by ISAF forces and I am confident that our security forces can maintain security in the whole Laghman Province,” said Azizi.
The governor closed his speech by personally addressing all the commanders in English and expressing his gratitude for their help and continued support.
The incoming commander for TF Gryphon, Lt. Col. James W. Craft III, spoke last and said, “TF Warhorse helped an already strong team of leaders to become better.These Afghan leaders are ready, willing, and eager to take ownership of this province and prove to the people of Laghman that they can provide for them as coalition assistance is reduced.”
The ceremony ended with the lowering of the US flag, symbolizing the transfer of authority from US troops and the raising of the Afghan flag to symbolize that the ANSF are ready to accept the responsibility to lead security in the Laghman province.